Directed by Christopher B. Landon. Produced by Andy Fickman and Todd Garner. Written by Carrie Evans, Emi Mochizuki, and Christopher B. Landon. Release date: October 30, 2015.
One would hope that a film with a title like Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse would be a lot more fun than the movie we wound up getting. Completely devoid of laughs, compelling characters, scares, memorable action, ideas, or fun, this is one of the blandest movies that will be released to multiplexes this year – or any year – that contains such a silly title.
Maybe it’s the fault of the zombies, who nowadays are so difficult to make engaging or fun. We’ve seen so many zombie movies, particularly in the last decade, that we’re suffering from oversaturation. The movies need to do something extra to get us to become invested, since to us it feels like we’ve seen this same film over and over again. Even Cooties, which was just a generic zombie movie, had a killer hook. Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse‘s hook is that the heroes are all nerdy boy scouts, but in reality this premise is barely used, leading to the result being nothing we haven’t seen before.
Our leads are the three remaining boy scouts in America, I presume. Ben (Tye Sheridan) is the only one with any character arc to speak of, so he’s the de facto lead. He is in love with the sister (Halston Sage) of his best friend, Carter (Logan Miller), who hates being in the scouts – his sole defining characteristic. Both of them want to leave but have stayed around because their friend Augie (Joey Morgan) is still infatuated with the group. One night, when Augie is going to be awarded a prestigious badge, the scouts discover that almost everyone in their town has become a zombie. They’re also joined by a cocktail waitress of the local strip club, Denise (Sarah Dumont), who can certainly handle herself in a fight and is the closest Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse comes to having an interesting character.
It’s at this point when the movie has a choice. Does it want its characters to turn into unlikely action heroes and slaughter some zombie tail? Or does it want to take a more “realistic” approach and have them simply try to survive for an hour? Unfortunately for the audience, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse takes the latter approach – until a scene very close to the end – and, as a result, becomes just a generic zombie movie. The scouts try to survive and escape, all while finding zombies around every corner.
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse had the potential to be a really funny, over-the-top zombie movie, but it turned out to be a dull and generic one.
The way to salvage this is for the character interactions to be funny, fresh, and informative. If Ben, Carter, and Augie were fascinating characters whose sense of humor wasn’t akin to that of a profane 12-year-old, it’s possible that Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse would have still worked. But they are not fascinating characters, and their sense of humor is akin to that of a profane 12-year-old. Almost all of the “jokes” – of which there are very few – are those that wouldn’t make it into an R-rated Adam Sandler movie. Yes, they’re that juvenile and that stupid. I can tell you, anecdotally, that in a theater of approximately 15 people, only one “out-loud” laugh was heard over the course of the film’s 90+ minutes.
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse does have a bloody climax, but because the filmmaking is garbage – the cuts are too quick, the only light comes from “party lights” (which means you’re not going to see much), and it’s just the same thing over and over again – it isn’t very fun. Sure, zombies get chopped up by power tools and explode in various shades of crimson, but how long can that be enjoyable, especially when you can barely even see what’s going on? The only character arc is so simple that it could be done better in a 3-panel comic strip.
What we’ve essentially got with Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is an R-rated horror-comedy that doesn’t want to use its premise for much physical comedy – outside of some sexual jokes involving the zombies; yes, really – and whose spoken sense of humor will only appeal to those who are far too young to see it. It doesn’t want to take its setup in any way that is fresh or interesting. It’s bland, uninventive, stupid, and fails to make up for this with its over-the-top conclusion, which comes too late and is so poorly made that you aren’t shocked when you learn the same director made Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones. Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse had the potential to be a really funny, over-the-top zombie movie, but it turned out to be a dull and generic one.
Bottom Line: A bland zombie movie, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse wastes any potential it had to become as generic as possible.
Recommendation: There are few mainstream zombie movies worse than this one, so just rent a better one at home.[rating=1]