There’s not a whole lot to the raucous and gleefully immature zombie comedy Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse that zombie fans haven’t seen before. It’s as if the producers tossed Shaun of the Dead (2004), Zombieland (2009), and (the highly underrated) Dance of the Dead (2008) into a blender, forgot to put the lid on, and then sprayed broad, bloody slapstick silliness all over the theater. Tailor-made for the young, white male demographic (and virtually no one else), the flick doesn’t have an original bone in its body, but what it lacks in originality it manages to make up for in energy.
The film plays like a horny 15-year-old boy’s coolest daydream: three loyal young scouts are the only ones who can save the day when a zombie invasion overtakes their sleepy little town. Well, actually the only thing they’re interested in “saving” is a party full of cool guys and pretty gals. Scouts, don’t forget, are “nerds,” after all, and this flick is all about the pubescent wish fulfillment of nerdy 15-year-old boys. Case-in-point: the only ally that lifelong scouts Ben (Tye Sheridan), Carter (Logan Miller), and Augie (Joey Morgan) manage to locate during their night of zombie extermination is a bad-ass blonde stripper with beautiful legs and hypnotic cleavage. There’s also a scene in which a busty zombie cop breaks out of her blouse so that one of our heroes can grope her big, bouncy, undead boobs.
Yeah, so this isn’t exactly George Romero style satire we’re dealing with here.
And yet, despite a very sloppy editorial style, a distinct lack of originality, and a consistently puerile sense of humor, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse does manage to earn some points on pure energy. Once we get a past a rocky first act, the film settles in to a fast-paced groove and manages to deliver a decent collection of goofy, gory, zombie-filled set pieces. Despite a few adjustments made to established zombie lore — the ones in this film are a bit smarter than your average zombie, plus this time around the infection also effects animals — Scouts Guide does manage to unload a modest yet colorful series of action sequences in which our four young heroes barely manage to stay one step ahead of the zombie invasion.
Fortunately for all involved (especially the screenwriters), the three leads contribute unexpectedly strong performances, although it’s the stripper gal (Sarah Dumont) who manages to steal most of the film’s best scenes, And despite a choppy editorial approach that sometimes comes off as downright random, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse does manage to shine in a handful of amusing sequences. Most of them arrive in the second half of the film, but at its best moments the scrappy little flick sorta feels like a decidedly foul-mouthed homage to the goofier films of Joe Dante and Richard Donner. Viewers outside of the flick’s target audience may appreciate the contributions of David Koechner (as an ill-fated scoutmaster) and Cloris Leachman as a nasty old cat lady who also runs afoul of the zombie hordes.
Again, there’s not ,much here that zombie fans haven’t seen before, but thanks to a strong cast, a nice dose of enthusiasm, a notably playful musical score, and a handful of legitimately clever ideas, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse should prove to be just entertaining enough — doubly so if you happen to be a horny 15-year-old boy who dreams of cracking wise while saving pretty girls from the clutches of flesh-eating zombies.