Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is notable for being part of a new wave of funky retro-inspired horror movie posters. So it’s a shame the movie doesn’t live up the groovy artwork.
Three high school best friends (played by Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller and Joey Morgan) are increasingly unsure of where they each stand with regards to their continued Scouts membership. Secret plans are made that are all but guaranteed to upset one of the members of the group, but don’t get too involved because it isn’t long until the zombie apocalypse comes rolling into town. The trio have to reconcile their feelings and team up to kick some zombie ass!!
As a set-up, it’s fine. That’s more than can be said for the execution, though. Christopher B. Landon (director) drops the wit of the best zombie comedies (Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland and Night of the Living Deb etc.) in favour of lowest common denominator R-rated bro-comedy. Most of this boorishness comes courtesy of Carter (Miller), the ‘irritating’ one to Morgan’s ‘loser’, with Sheridan’s Ben sitting somewhere in the middle.
It’s a significant step-down for Sheridan, who first blew me away in Jeff Nichols’ Mud. But some of that magic does just does shine through in places. Sentimental it may become, but the group’s rapport, led by Sheridan, is pretty much the best thing in the movie.
The zombie stuff has all been done before and even when the film tries to change things up a bit with the finale’s Dead Rising-esque makeshift weapons, they raise the body count but not the pulse. It’s a rather damning lesson that zombies aren’t enough; that there has to be something more, some kind of emotional or thematic core worth sticking around for. While they head in the right direction with the ‘I’m changing, but are my friends’ relationship line, it just isn’t enough.
There are hints towards a welcome old-fashioned charm in Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, but they remain hints. No amount of zombie penis jokes are going to change that.
A big thank you to the FDA for hosting the screening!