Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015)
Directed by Christopher B. Landon
Do you remember, in high school, when you'd be sitting in class and you'd day dream about any number of random scenarios? Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse feels like compilation of those high school fantasies.
Ben, Carter, and Augie (Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, and Joey Morgan) are high school sophomores who also happen to be long-time Boy Scouts. Augie is devoted to the troop, but Ben and Carter are tired of it. One evening, as Ben and Carter try to figure out a good time to tell Augie about it, a zombie outbreak begins, spreading quickly while the scouts are camping in nearby woods. By the time they notice it a stripper, Denise (Sarah Dumont), has saved their lives and most of the town has already been turned into zombies. The scouts team up with Denise as they try to survive, bumbling through some plans as they try to find and save Carter's sister, Kendall, and their other classmates from the zombie infection as well as a planned military airstrike.
This movie is simultaneously a fun and [one of] the worst portrayal of zombies that I've ever seen. This is a cross between Shaun of the Dead, 28 Days Later, and Warm Bodies. The zombies display obvious personalities leftover from before being infected, as well as going back and forth between being Romero's slow-moving zombies and World War Z's rage-infested people. The effect can be comedic but mostly feels off-kilter. And, similarly, the horror is just as strange. Matthew Margeson's soundtrack tells us when a scare is on the way, but those scares never really scare. The jump scares, the wind ups, and the mediocre jokes are all predictable from miles away and that horror ends up being more miss than hit.
Scratch that last part: most of the story is predictable. The touching moments, the fights, the jokes, the twists... just about everything can be seen coming. Despite that, writers Carrie Evans, Emi Mochizuki, and Lona Williams are able to develop great characters with few exceptions. The characters are fun and believable and so are the personalities. There aren't a lot of movies that can get the feelings of high schoolers right but Landon's done a pretty good job of capturing those feelings. It feels a bit forced at times but the character development is generally great, especially the scout's friendship.
But now I should mention the acting. A lot of the time it's okay. But outside of the three scouts its just awful. I am talking about SyFy channel and Asylum Productions quality acting. It's trite. It's forced. It's some of the worst acting I've ever seen. Every side character pulls the movie apart. But the three main characters do an admirable job, if sometimes a little stale.
The truth is that Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is a fun ride. The journey builds up interestingly with good touches of youth and humor peppered throughout. In fact, it makes me feel younger. The banter, the feeling of being hormonal, being nervous around girls, the need to be cool... they're captured here. And some of the humor fits in with that. In that regard the humor works.
But the utter predictability of it all sets it all back. The true horror is how much the movie feels so exactly like a high school daydream. You can almost see the train of thought as the movie unfolds. I understand fully that the movie pokes fun at zombie tropes and gives us a more youthful, adventurous look without the concerns of The Walking Dead or World War Z. Unfortunately the result is a poorly written story, regardless of any fun we might have, that doesn't take full advantage of the situational humor that could've been.
TL;DR: The fact that the boys are Boy Scouts is a simple plot device to get the boys away from evacuation and out of the initial zombie outbreak. It also serves to give us a few jokes but ultimately it's tossed aside as little more than a string to hold the main characters in a friendship. And that's sad, because it could've been a much more fun and funny movie than it turns out to be: an embellished, high school freshman's, hero fantasy.
- Acting – 12 / 20
- Story – 6 / 20
- Cinematography – 10 / 20
- Soundtrack – 3 / 10
- Entertainment Factor – 6 / 10
- Horror/Comedy – 4 / 10
- Other – 0 / 10