The past decade has brought a huge surge of zombies into the popular culture. Comics, TV shows, and more movies than than could ever possibly fill a Netflix queue. As a fan of the genre myself, I am glad to see the obsession seems to finally be waning. We were at a point of critical mass. It seemed like every screenwriter thought the best new script would just be “____ + zombies.”
The latest in this long line, is Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse. Which is exactly what it sounds like: A group of three high school sophomore scout friends must take on a horde of the undead, in order to save the world. Ben, Carter, and Augie are having a camping ceremony in the woods, and are waiting for Scout Leader Rogers (David Koechner) to arrive and give Augie his Condor Badge – the highest honor for a scout. Unbeknownst to Augie, Carter has convinced Ben to sneak out after the others fall asleep to go to a cool super secret senior party. Scout Leader Rogers never shows, and Augie – ever the enthusiastic scout, assumes that Rogers has given him one last survival test.
On the way out of camp, Ben and Carter are caught by Augie, and break his heart by abandoning him on his big night. As the boys arrive back in town, they find the town mysteriously deserted. Except for – surprise! – flocks of the undead! What follows is an escape through town from the police station, a strip club, a suburban neighborhood, and a rec center. Leaving in the boys’ wake, a river of blood and a scattering of body parts.
Going into this movie, I didn’t have very high hopes. After seeing my fair share of “+ zombie” movies, I have begun to tire of them. Surprisingly though, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is pretty dang all right, as far as the genre goes. The characters are cliche as hell. Stop me if you’ve heard any of this before. Ben is the shy, but relatable audience surrogate, Carter is the wild party guy – too cool for scouts, and has the vulgar mouth for the group. Augie is the ever loyal friend, and a big scout nerd. Along the way, they meet up with the rad street smart chick, Denise, who teaches shy Ben how to get his crush – Carter’s sister Kendal.
The difference with Scouts though, is that you can tell it was really made with passion by fans of the genre. It has heart, and it shows. Where the script and characters are by the numbers, the gore (and there is plenty of gore) is the perfect mix of intense and campy – much like the Evil Dead or Dead Alive. Most of the effects are practical, and go a long way in selling it. They really work. The CGI effects are (mostly) pretty dang good, or unnoticeable. A few iffy effects stand out, but don’t really retract.
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is like Shaun of the Dead Jr. Not nearly as clever mind you, but I still had fun. It was a fun trip seeing the boys escape situations using standard, if not silly, scouting skills. Ramping all the way to see them ending up at a hardware store, crafting badass zombie killing weapons – complete with 80’s style “gearing up” quick cuts.
Cliche script aside, the great effects and heartfelt fun make Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse a notable entry in the otherwise flooded zombie genre. David Koechner and a guest spot by Cloris Leachman, add some seasoned humor along the way. Watch this one with friends. You’ll all have a good bit of fun, if you aren’t overly critical.
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