Movies like Zombieland have shown that it’s possible to make a successful teen zombie action-thriller with smart comedic dialogue. Although the title’s hardly inspired, that movie managed to gross a whopping US$102.4 million [S$145.6 million] in the box office and took home 9 minor awards. Not only was Zombieland hilariously entertaining, it left audiences invested in the plot and sympathetic with the characters.
Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse proves to us the same elements (slapstick comedy in a teenage gore movie) don’t always work well the second time round . Despite Landon’s love for comedy in his works, and his experience working on horror movies like the American thriller Disturbia and 4 Paranormal Activity films, Scout’s Guide fails to impress with a weak plot, forgettable characters and offensive, cheap and oft-recycled gags.
Scout’s Guide’s zombie apocalypse starts after a janitor stumbles upon a corpse in a research facility, and inadvertently unleashes the virus that spreads through the town within a day. Whether the townfolk will survive this zombie epidemic depends on highly unlikely heroes – junior high school scouts Ben (Tye Sheridan), Carter (Logan Miller) and Augie (Joey Morgan), and their new-found friend, a gun-toting strip club waitress friend Denise (Sarah Dumont). To survive, the trio has to put their years of scout survival skills, their lifelong friendship, and the scout motto of “Be prepared” to the test.
Honestly, the concept of using scout survival skills to get through a zombie apocalypse is quite creative and more believable than non-Survivor-trained civilians miraculously managing to survive these already far-fetched situations. The scouts’ ability to make zombie-killing launchers and spears from everyday products certainly did impress. Although surely Augie couldn’t have learnt to make a bomb in Scouting 101?
The underlying plot’s not terrible either. Though hardly original, the same friendship storyline’s been used before in movies like Superbad. Tension grows between 3 best friends when Ben and Carter consider quitting scouts so that they can stop being their school’s equivalent of Glee club members, much to scout diehard Augie’s chagrin. As Landon mentioned in an interview with ScreenSlam, aside from being a zombie-themed comedy, his is also has a coming-of-age plotline for the 3 teenagers.
Too bad the main focus of the film shifted from the storyline to the comedy and silly antics, leaving the plot forgotten for a large part of the show and causing us to lose interest in the characters. It almost seemed like the writers suddenly remembered the plot midway, and rushed to take care of it sloppily with an overly cliché speech from Ben that somehow manages to inspire his friends to save the world. It was too little, too late, and even though we don’t hate the characters, we don’t really care about them much because they were never fleshed out properly.
Landon might believe that directing comedies means having the freedom to add as many crazy and “unexpected” elements into the movie as possible, but there’s a difference between making a comedy that’s creative and witty, and one that just offers dumb humour.
One thing that was very overbearing about this movie is the unnecessary, overly exaggerated sexual references and imagery that earned its M-18 rating. We’re not just talking about the stereotypical slim, large-breasted females of the teen flick genre. We’re talking about the female zombie’s shirt bursting open to reveal her D-cups while she was chasing the scouts down the road and of how Ben all but pulled a male zombie’s genitals off when hanging on for dear life off a windowsill.
With Landon banking on teenage boys as the primary target audience, as mentioned in his ScreenSlam interview, we understand why he made this look like the fantasy of every pubescent boy. If like Miller’s character, you entered the cinema thinking, “I just wanted to see some titties!” you won’t be disappointed. However, those who aren’t sex-obsessed teenage boys are likely to get bored or even slightly annoyed by the excessive use of sexual themes and jokes. We certainly rolled our eyes a few times.
That said, we have to admit that this movie will draw a few laughs. The gags are comical, though not too intelligent. Still, Scout’s Guide is decent if you’re looking for a fun, mindless movie.
Scout’s Guide is not absolutely abysmal, with the comedic elements being its saving grace, though barely. But apart from this, there’s not much going for this movie. Landon had said in his interview with DailyDead that he had hopes that Scout’s Guide could potentially become a more gory, R-rated version of The Goonies, Gremlins, or even Monster Squad, 3 well-loved classics. Unfortunately for him, he may have to be prepared to be remembered for producing something more along the lines of Zombie Strippers instead.
Let us know in the comments section what you thought of Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse!
Release Date: 12 November 2015
Runtime: 93 minutes
Rating: M18 – Nudity and Violence
Genre: Comedy, Horror
Director: Christopher Landon
Cast: Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Joey Morgan, Sarah Dumont, David Koechner, Halston Sage