Originally published on The National Student on 30/10/15.
Paranormal Activity veteran Christopher Landon’s first foray into out-and-out comedy is packed with plenty of gross-out giggles, but covers absolutely no new ground in anything it does.
Boasting quite possibly one of the most overly long-winded titles around this Halloween, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse does exactly what it says on the tin, following three nerdy teens (Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller and Joey Morgan) – the only members of an ageing scout troop – as they attempt to survive an ongoing attack from hordes of the undead.
Saved somewhat by Denise (Sarah Dumont), a cocktail waitress with attitude, the gang must make their way across town to a secret senior party in order to save their fellow high-schoolers from the impending massacre.
So far, so generic. In fact, aside from the oddly unpronounced scouts set-up, you’d be hard-pushed to find anything exceedingly new or different here. Since 2005’s genre-bending Shaun of the Dead, zom-coms have become pretty well known in the Hollywood cannon (remember Zombieland?) andScouts fails to ever really trump these predecessors in any way shape or form. It basically reads likeSuperbad with zombies, which isn’t necessarily a bad set-up, just one that’s been done multiple times already, and with significantly more promise.
This isn’t to say that Scouts isn’t fun though; there are plenty of jokes here that should well keep the laughter rolling for a teen audience – much of which is sufficiently gross. Whether it’s undead strippers or decaying genitalia, most of these are obviously pretty juvenile and sex-related, and are unlikely to raise so much as a snigger from more mature viewers, but Landon seems to know his audience well, and for fans of silliness, Scouts does deliver rather well.
As such, although it isn’t entirely important when blood and guts are more the spectacle, acting-wiseScouts doesn’t really falter. Tye Sheridan’s likeable lead Ben is vulnerable enough to get behind, whilst his supporting brothers-in-arms provide plenty of background humour and decent chemistry to keep the narrative rolling. Dumont’s Sarah Connor-style saviour Denise offers plenty of fun too, as does a zombified David Koechner, despite both basically covering one-note roles throughout, and so overall everything is pretty much on the level here. Nothing extraordinary, but it does the job.
That is essentially Scouts in a nutshell. The jokes are silly and often disgusting, the violence is prominent but never nasty and the plot twists are obvious but entirely serviceable. Incredibly unspectacular, but never particularly offensive in its execution. There are certainly ways that Landon’s film could’ve been improved, but as is, there’s no real reason to pick on it either; teen audiences will no doubt have a ball.
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015), directed by Christopher Landon, is released in the UK on 6th November by Paramount Pictures. Certificate 15.