If I were asked to briefly sum up Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse, and that is kind of the point of this movie reviewing process, it would be to say it’s a zombie outbreak seen from the perspective of a hormonal male teenager. The women are all ridiculously attractive and contribute little to the narrative. Yes, even Sarah Dumont’s Denise. Despite the fact she is set up as a gun-toting cocktail waitress she is there, really, to act as eye candy. Give her a Ripley shell all you like, but there is absolutely zero emotional connection to her character and that is disappointing.
So, the lead characters are somewhat rote and played out. Our three scouts, Ben (Tye Sheridan), Carter (Logan Miller) and Augie (Joey Morgan) fill the usual stereotypes of the nerdy overweight kid, the sex-crazed teen and… well, the slightly boring one. Sorry, Tye Sheridan, but the straight man role doesn’t give you much to work with. Unless you’re Simon Pegg, of course. They’re all out of town camping when a zombie apocalypse hits the town, and it’s up to them, alongside strip club employee Denise (Dumont), to save their classmates and get out of town before the place is blown up by the military.
The joke is that scouts are ideally placed to survive an apocalypse on the basis of the skills they learn as part of their scout training. This is demonstrated in almost every dangerous situation they face, be it locked in a cell in the police station, escaping the attention of David Koechner’s Scout Leader Rogers, or fighting off swarms of the undead with homemade custom weaponry built from the contents of a DIY store.
I’m not averse to some toilet humour though. There are a couple of solid gold gross-out jokes that are almost painfully funny. The sad thing is that this level of mirth isn’t carried through the remainder of the film. There are amusing moments, sure, but genuine laughs are intermittent, even more so as the story progresses and the stakes get higher. Things get off to a strong start too, as an infected patient attacks those present and releases the virus into the open world. This internal sequence is tense yet filled with genuinely funny gags.
The characterisation might be as trope-like as a trope that has decided it wants to be the biggest trope ever seen to celebrate Saint Trope’s Day (NB: not a real public holiday), but they are sufficiently developed enough for us to understand their motivations, their fears and the nature of their friendships.
I started off by spotting a number of obvious continuity errors – because my brain can’t say no to spotting them when they’re as blatant as they are here. Then, gradually, I was able to settle into the story and after the opening act I didn’t pick up on anything that stood out too much.
On a more positive note, the zombies are different from the normal brain munching undead in that they each have a distinct personality, which isn’t all that clever if you look at it hard enough – it’s just them as they were before turning/dying. This does at least offer some amusing moments, even if some like the Britney Spears gag run on longer than is absolutely necessary for a one line payoff.