Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse Review
For the last decade or so, Zom-Com has become a much-loved genre, counting among its ranks the likes of Shaun of the Dead, Zombieland, Fido, or Life After Beth. Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is its latest newcomer - a fun, slapstick, high school-themed twist on the usual Zombie comedy.
The story kicks off with Ben (Tye Sheridan) and Carter (Logan Miller), two sophomores and the only Scouts in their high school, along with their enthusiastic friend Augie (Joey Morgan). Their camp leader, Scout Leader Rogers (David Koechner), is struggling to recruit new members to their squad, but the team on the surface perseveres. However, worried about their popularity with girls, Ben and Carter are secretly planning to quit.
Despite this, the pair of friends are immediately sympathetic: Sheridan, whose character Ben functions as the moral centre of the story, delivers a compelling performance - endearing in his good intentions and typical teenage anxieties. His dynamic with Miller - the latter being a goofy, selfish counterpart - leads to some exquisitely comedic moments.
A camping trip turns sour when the trio discover that their Scout Leader has gone missing - and that their small town is overrun by menacing zombies. In a series of chases, they evade the undead, while striving to save their peers at a senior secret party from an untimely fate. They are led by Denise (Sarah Dumont), an alumni from their school, who introduces much needed common-sense in the trio’s angsty, emotional dynamic.
Scouts Guide thankfully doesn’t take itself - or any of its characters - seriously. While it uses many high school film tropes - a yearning for popularity, crushes, clandestine booze purchases, secret parties - its protagonists themselves are far from clichés. Carter and Ben aspire to be cool, yet they openly joke about their vulnerabilities. Morgan portrays Augie as defiantly proud of his Scout geekiness, and unafraid to confront his friends about their flaky behaviour. Denise, a cocktail waitress in a strip club, is strong, clever and smart, and quick to dispel the illusion that popularity at school matters. Director Christopher Landon even manages to include some thoughts about social inequality - when asked about her job, Denise snaps back that she hasn’t had the opportunities that her zombie apocalypse companions had access to.
The film features a superb soundtrack and a series of clever set pieces - think Zombie cats, a Dolly Parton-themed chase, and a fire-resistant opponent. Its few slapstick moments are indeed uncomfortable, but never fall on the wrong side of distasteful.
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is a great addition to the Zom-Com genre. It’s a fun watch, and a gleeful celebration of scouting.
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is now out in UK cinemas.