We film-goers really can’t get enough of zombies. The brain-munching, cannibalistic horrors used to be the stuff of nightmares. But as our tastes became more extreme, the flesh-eaters managed to slip into the mainstream with genre-bending films at the forefront of zombie resurgence.
Christopher B. Landon brings zombies back to the silver screen with horror comedy, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse. Are we looking at a US version of Shaun of the Dead? Or something a little more dead behind the eyes?
Scouts Guide follows the tale of three teenage boys, having to battle not only their raging hormones, but a raging horde of zombies in a small town during the course of one evening. Starring rising star Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller and Joey Morgan as the aforementioned teens and the ever-likeable David Koechner as their scout leader, the trio must survive and defeat the creatures.
To create a successful zombie film, you need to know your monsters and this is where things start to unravel here. There are so many inconsistences that it’s difficult knowing where to begin. Instead of choosing a zombie-typing, like fast walkers from World War Z or traditional moaners like those from Shaun of the Dead, Scouts Guide uses both and the result simply doesn’t work.
It appears that the zombies will do whatever is necessary in order to carry on the plot. Whether that be slow enough for a person to escape or fast enough to catch up with a non-lead character. It’s a frustrating lapse in judgement by the production team that really doesn’t go unnoticed.
Then there’s the plot. It’s so riddled with holes, cheap jumps and clichés that it’s almost impossible to fully immerse yourself in the experience. The makeup on the zombies is also terrifically poor, lacking in any sort of terror or real detail.
Thankfully, the acting from the lead three scouts is good with Sheridan in particular proving why he’s fast becoming one to watch, especially after being cast in next year’s X-Men: Apocalypse. The remainder of the characters are cardboard cut-outs with no backstory and no real gravitas when it comes to how the story will play out.
Nevertheless, there are some funny and genuinely clever moments dotted throughout Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse. A living-room chase choreographed to Dolly Parton’s 9 to 5 is a hilarious, albeit too short highlight in a film that needed more intriguing and unique sequences.
There’s also a nice, if unusually placed, homage to John Carpenter’s Halloween that whilst being particularly tasteful, is at odds with the film’s themes and genre.
Overall, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is as beige as a blood-filled horror comedy can come. Despite a couple of clever scenes, some good acting and a reasonably fluid directing style, it’s a damp squib of a movie that never really gets into its groove.
If this is what’s to come from the genre, you may well be hoping for that apocalypse after all.