PLOT: Three teenaged scouts on a camping trip find themselves the unlikely survivors of a zombie outbreak. Now they must fight their way through an undead horde using their advances scouting tricks in order to save their unappreciative classmates from becoming victims of the rapidly advancing undead horde.
REVIEW: Obviously you don’t walk into a movie called SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE expecting much more that a bloody lark. A movie like this only needs to be fun, energetic and hopefully more than a little gruesome in order to do its job. So basically, the bar is set pretty low long before you walk into the theater.
So why then is SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE so curiously underwhelming? It has everything the title promises (scouts and zombies), only runs ninety minutes, boasts a game cast and has enough T&A to earn the devotion of its target teenage-boy audience. However, SCOUTS GUIDE is missing a few things, namely a palpable sense of energy, carnage and heart.
Considering the title and the hard R-rating, SCOUTS GUIDE feels way less outrageous than it should have been. While there are some good gross-out gangs (a bit involving an undead elderly man’s “member” is particularly funny) the rest of the movie feels too slap-dash to really be memorable. This is another of Paramount’s experimental releases, where following an abbreviated theatrical run, SCOUT’S GUIDE will be bowing on VOD, where the target teenage audience likely won’t be kept away by the R-rating. The problem is that the movie feels so low-rent any kind of theatrical release is a waste. Given all the deserving fare that never expands beyond a dozen-or-so screens, something like this doesn’t really belong on the big-screen anymore. It feels like a movie that’s been specifically designed for digital platforms, making the theatrical experience decidedly underwhelming, even with the added content tacked-on to the advance screening I attended (a video by DJ Dillon Francis that went on way too long).
Given the budget, the zombie and gore fx are quite underwhelming, especially compared to what we see week-in, week-out on The Walking Dead. If the pacing had been really dead-on, it would have made up for this somewhat but director Christopher Landon (who directed PARANORMAL ACTIVITY: THE MARKED ONES) seems to be saving most of his resources for the grand guignol big finish, which leaves the rest of the movie feeling pretty ho-hum.
It doesn’t help that SCOUTS GUIDE has an odd mean-streak, where the deaths of sympathetic characters are treated as throw-away gross-out gags, with some being in especially bad taste – including a spot of zombie cunnilingus that seems like an ill-advised addition. Luckily, the lead actors are all pretty solid. Tye Sheridan, who’s quickly becoming an indie superstar with movies like MUD, JOE and LAST DAYS IN THE DESERT, makes a stab for teen idol status as the most level-headed of the scouts. Sheridan gives it his all and seems to be having fun killing zombies and making out with hot girls (who can blame him?). His STANFORD PRISON EXPERIMENT co-star Logan Miller plays his the stereotypical horny sidekick, but his chemistry with Sheridan is good and he doesn’t go too overboard. Joey Morgan as their best pal Auggie – the most devoted scout of the bunch – is similarly solid and the three have a good sense of camaraderie that makes the movie somewhat easier to digest than it would be otherwise.
Landon, who obviously knows his audience, also throws in plenty of PORKY’s-style raunch, including a trip to a strip-club, more than one shot of zombie boobs, and a gorgeous, older, female co-star (Sarah Dumont) who spends the entire movie in cut-off jean shorts and a tank top. Again – teenage boys will love this, but even they would be well-advised to wait for VOD/streaming. This is a viral-style movie and not something that really belongs in theaters. While I didn’t much care for watching it on the big-screen, if this had been a late-night Netflix watch SCOUTS GUIDE might have gone down alright. By that extremely low-standard, I suppose this is something of a success, but don’t be tricked into shelling out cash on a movie ticket, no matter how much you like zombie splatter. There are better options out there.