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Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse

(MA15+) ★★

Director: Christopher B Landon.

Cast: Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Joey Morgan, Sarah Dumont, David Koechner, Halston Sage, Cloris Leachman.

Scouts - check. Zombies - check. Hot chick - check.

THIS film may be the best evidence yet that we’ve reached “peak zombie”.

You can hear the bottom of the barrel being scraped in the quest for a new angle on the undead sub-genre, but unfortunately the makers come up dry.

This was originally titled Scouts Vs Zombies before being given its present poorly punctuated moniker (Scout’s Guide... or Scouts’ Guide... would have been acceptable). But the first name is the most accurate – there is nothing more to it than the fact it contains scouts and zombies. It’s like Snakes On A Plane, or Zombie Strippers - the title says it all and you probably don’t need to watch it to figure out how it’s going to go down.

If you don’t want to waste time figuring it out, it goes down a little something like this: three teenage scouts go camping in the woods before sneaking off to go to a party. When they get back to civilisation, they find a zombie apocalypse has taken place.

It would be nice to say their scouting abilities help them save the day but they don’t really. The whole scouting subplot ends up being largely irrelevant to the zombie outbreak, although it does add some development to the three main characters.

Ben (Sheridan), Carter (Miller) and Augie (Morgan) are likeable, which is about the best thing the film has going with it. Dumont’s character Denise, a gun-toting stripper, is also a good character and serves as the biggest bad-ass and strongest member of the team, which is refreshing.

However comedy veterans Koechner and Leachman are criminally underused, but then again, comedy is criminally underused. It’s obvious that Scouts Guide… wants to be a mixture of Superbad and Zombieland but it has none of the good qualities of either of those films. It’s filmic world is just a superbad zombieland.

PODCAST: Have we had enough of zombies?

The worst attempts at humour involve gore and genitalia mixed together, as well as boobs and, bizarrely, Britney Spears. The film rarely lands a gag bar a couple of one-liners, and instead has to settle for the laughs that come from the over-the-top blood-and-guts moments.

Most annoyingly, the film can’t even get its zombies consistent. Are they walkers or sprinters or do they run on all fours like animals? Do they have memories or not? Are they capable of problem solving or not? The answers to these questions change constantly, making the film frustratingly nonsensical at times, such as in the Britney Spears bit.

Zom-coms can be great – just look at Shaun Of The Dead and Zombieland – but this is not a great zom-com. This is a Z grade idea with a C grade budget and B grade delivery.

The only strengths to recommend it on are its over-the-top gore and its so-so leads, who try to give the film a bit of heart. But really, this is one for teenagers and zombie aficionados only.

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