by: S. Scott Stanikmas – Senior Staff Writer
Zombie movies tend to take themselves too seriously. Occasionally if you pepper in just the right amount of humor to take the edge off before ripping people limb from limb you get films like Zombieland and Shaun Of The Dead. Perfect examples that there is a viable market for the humorous zombie movies, where the laughs and the gore take the screen in equal measure. It’s a tough combo to pull off, but I’m glad to say we can add Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse to that list.
The film follows Ben (Tye Sheridan), Carter ( Logan Miller) and Augie (Joey Morgan), a trio of friends who have been scouts since they were little kids. Even though they get laughed at and virtually ignored they still don their shorts and badges proudly.
Augie does, at least. Carter and Ben have been having second thoughts about where their future will take them if they continue with scouting and have decided to tell their friend that the scout pack of three will soon be down to one. But first they’ve got one last campout to celebrate Augie’s big accomplishment – receiving the Condor Patch.
Carter realizes he can’t even get through the campout as he has visions of parties and girls running through his head. After his sister’s boyfriend invites him to a “Secret Senior Party”, Carter talks Ben into ditching the campout for a few hours to go and live it up with the cool kids.
But while the scouts are off in the wilderness the world (or at least their town) has gone to hell, being overrun with the living dead. This trio of friends, along with a cocktail waitress (Sarah Dumont) from the local strip club, are the only hope for a group of unsuspecting kids whose party is about to get a major foul in the form of a herd of zombies.
While not a major scarefest, Scouts Guide did have a couple of good jumpy moments but never anything where you felt like biting your fingernails in fear. This movie reveled in the comedy and it was laugh out loud good. A movie like this needs to embrace its sophomoric humor without going too shticky and I’m of the mind that it found the right balance.
Sheridan, Miller and Morgan all played off each other well. While there was a moment or two where you might groan at their childish infighting, it helps that their characters are supposed to be kids (high school sophomores), so those minor moments can be forgiven.
While the trailers may have given away some of the better and more inventive zombie kills, the rest of the film does have some surprises in store. I won’t ruin any of them for you here as seeing them unfold on the screen is the point of a film like this. Just know that you’ll be both equally impressed and entertained by the way these scouts dispatch zombies.
Director Michael Landon is no stranger to the horror genre, having written the second through fifth installments of the Paranormal Activity franchise and the teen-level Rear Window homage Disturbia, while making his debut behind the lens with Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones (the aforementioned fifth film in the series). His work here on Scouts Guide still seemed a bit rough, but it showed a lot of promise for future work.
If the end of the world came tomorrow and the dead started eating the living, I feel confident that Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse has prepared me with the tools I need to take out some zombies…or at least provided me with a couple of good laughs before the ghouls started munching on me.