Synopsis: Three scouts, on the eve of their last camp-out, discover the true meaning of friendship when they attempt to save their town from a zombie outbreak.
Stars: Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Joey Morgan, Sarah Dumont, Cloris Leachman, David Koechner, Halston Sage, Patrick Schwarzenegger
Director: Christopher Landon
Running Length: 93 minutes
TMMM Score: (6.5/10)
Review: Before the screening I attended of Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse there was a more than five minute headache of a tie-in music video from DJ Dillon Francis. Like a bad acid trip brought to life as a Nickelodeon cartoon in order to punish the wicked, the nonsensical bit of dead brain cell material had me eyeing the exit with a longing to run. At its conclusion, I braced myself for impact for the feature presentation I assumed would be more of the same bizarre antics.
The good news is that the movie was better than I expected it to be, the great news is that you won’t have to sit through the heinous pre-show nuisance I was subjected to. Make no mistake that Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse breaks zero new ground and comes off as a Frankenstein monster, a movie cobbled together from random bits and pieces of other films that no doubt had a great influence on the filmmakers.
Equal parts Superbad and Shaun of the Dead, the movie strikes while the zombie iron is hot with its tale of three scouts and an Amazonian stripper, ahem, cocktail waitress that battle an outbreak of the walking dead in their small California town. It’s that rare movie that actually gets better as it lumbers onward, with each new bit of blood and gore introduced providing repulsion and metered hilarity.
It’s fitting the humor is so sophomoric seeing that our three scouts are nearing the end of their sophomore year of high school. Ben (Tye Sheridan, Mud) and Carter (Logan Miller, The Bling Ring) have outgrown their scout days, preferring to focus on surviving high school instead of surviving in the wild. They’ve made a pact to tell their buddy Augie (Joey Morgan) and Scout Leader Rogers (David Koechner, Krampus) that their next campout will be their last, but any plans for a kumbaya send-off are interrupted when flesh eating fiends start to chase them down.
The old archetypes are present from top to bottom. Ben is a the good kid, Carter is the horny kid, Augie is the roly poly kid that his friends are secretly embarrassed of, there’s also a slutty girl, a girl people think it slutty but really has a heart of gold (Sarah Dumont, Don Jon), a virginal beauty (Halston Sage, Goosebumps), a mean jock (Patrick Schwarzenegger), a cranky old lady (Cloris Leachman, The Wedding Ringer, chewing the scenery as if it were her last meal), and a Britney Spears loving derelict (oh, if only more movies featured this stock character, right?).
Under the serviceable direction of Christopher Landon (Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones), the movie hums along at a decent pace, and at 93 minutes it takes it’s time to introduce the characters more than adequately before the bloodshed starts. The special effects are appropriately gory with slow-mo shots of zombie heads exploding and, in one case, a zombie phallus being stretched like a rubber band. Throw in a few shots of zombie boobs and you’ve completed the cinematic dreams of every randy teenage boy that finds their way into the R-rated film.
While it doesn’t attempt to reinvent the genre, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse just wants to have a little fun and I think it gets the job done without hurting anyone. Your tolerance for crude humor and zombie mayhem may be tested at times but taken for what it is, the film works almost in spite of itself.