Friday 13 November 2015

Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse


Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse
2015 USA
Directed by Christopher Landon
UK cinema release print.

Ha! You know, if I’d have known this film had the same director as the only bad Paranormal Activity movie, The Marked Ones (reviewed here) then I would probably given it a wide birth... then again, maybe not. It’s pretty hard to fail with a movie that has the title Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse and, as it happens, I was rather glad I gave this one a try. It’s not too terrible, actually.

The film comes from a long line of movies which pitch occupations or stereotypes against a set of B-movie style monsters such as Zombie Strippers (reviewed here), Cockneys VS Zombies (reviewed here) and Strippers VS Werewolves (reviewed here). Like a lot of those kinds of movies it’s a mostly hit and miss affair (the exception being Cockneys VS Zombies... which is pure class all the way) with a lot of emphasis on fun and as much in the movie that works as there is that doesn’t.

The story is about the last three boy Scouts in a small town about to participate in what two of them think will be their last night wearing the uniform. They plan to tell both their best friend and also the Scout's leader (played by David Koechner) about their decision to leave the Scouts after this last campout... after sneaking out to a party in the middle of it... at least that’s the plan. However, zombie shenanigans are afoot and it doesn’t take long before their chief is the victim of a zombie deer which was accidentally run over by two of the guys earlier. So it’s up to the three remaining buddies played by Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller and Joey Morgan... and a cool as heck, firearms skill-set stripper they befriend, played by Sarah Dumont... to rescue whoever is left in town who isn’t a zombie and get out of there before the military bomb the whole place in two hours time. So there’s your plot set up... simple but absolutely effective for this kind of movie.

The film is a bit uneven in that there’s a lot of crude or vulgar humour in it and, to be honest, I’m not sure I’m quite the target audience the writers were aiming at. That being said, there’s also some clever stuff and, frankly, the writers had me on their side as soon as I saw that the name of the local strip joint was called Lawrence Of Alabia. When the puns are that strong and sexy... I’m in for the duration, for sure.

Luckily, as it happens, the movie also has a lot of heart and though the adolescent shenanigans of the sex hungry Scouts are used to drive certain parts of the narrative, the four lead characters are all fairly sympathetic people who most people will be rooting for and who you wouldn’t, in all honesty, mind hanging out with for a few hours in a pub... so there’s some strong writing in here too, bolstered up by some sterling performances from the main cast.

There’s also the fact that the writing of the characters follows through on their initial set ups rather well, which is something Hollywood doesn’t often do very well these days. Okay, granted the intentions of two of the characters have changed by the end of the movie but that’s kind of understandable in that they’ve grown somewhat, arguably, from their high energy, zombie crunching adventures... so that’s to be forgiven. However, for example, we also have the great stripper character Denise, played by Sarah Dumont. Yes, she’s initially treated as eye candy to a certain extent but, ultimately, she proves to be probably the strongest, most confident character in the film... not only rescuing the three male protagonists regularly but also using a smattering of her sexuality to imbibe Tye Sheridan with the confidence to achieve something he wants to get out of life (yeah, I’m trying to leave out the spoilers here so pardon me if that’s a cryptic reference). All the time, though, her character follows through on not being that interested in hooking up with any of the male leads and, ultimately, not letting herself become a figure of ‘happy ending’ lovers syndrome which plagues so many movies... her character finishes out the movie with her sexuality intact and uncompromised by any of the male protagonists in the film... and that’s a good and confident arc for any character to have, I think. Dumont really nails the performance too... it has to be said.

Some of the jokes do fall flat and are a bit crude in places, often involving various zombie body parts like the breasts and penis under extreme duress... but the film is also inventive in some places too. While there is frequent blood and gore, like all the best zombie movies, there’s also some creative variations on the violence too... one of which, involving the top end of a broken off bottle and which got a big laugh from the audience I was with, is something I definitely didn't see coming. Also, the weapons the Scouts ‘MacGyver up’ at the end in the obligatory pre-showdown ‘tooling up’ sequence, while seemingly a little long in terms of content for a time limit of a town that’s going to blow up in less than two hours, also throws some interestingly gory moments into the mix.

All in all, there’s not a hell of a lot more I can say about Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse other than, unlike most zombie movies, where everything is usually left completely unexplained, there is a scene at the start of the movie which does at least clarify where and how the zombie outbreak starts... even though there’s still not too much in terms of explanation as to why it’s been started in the first place, depending on how you decode the intent of a laboratory technician at the start of the picture. This aside though, the higher moral pitch of the characters more than makes up for any off colour humour, which may or may not seem in bad taste in certain sections of the movie and everything's done with a certain sense of fun which comes across, almost by osmosis, to the audience. It’s not exactly a classic movie but it certainly is going to hold your attention and make you smile a lot. This flick would definitely play well to an 'all nighter marathon' kind of crowd and, if you are already a zombie movie fan, then this kind of ‘something versus zombies’ movie is definitely an event kind of film. Certainly check it out if you are into horror comedies with a lot of goriness to them... or your DYB DYB DYB may come to a DOB DOB DOBBY end.

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