The zombie sub-genre has grown so tired amidst a contemporary cinematic landscape. We’ve seen spoofs in the form of Shaun of the Dead, a retelling of Shakespeare with Warm Bodies, while having witnessed the cinematic antagonist come up against formidable opponents such as Arnie in Maggie, or worse, Cockneys – in the aptly titled Cockneys Vs. Zombies. Though struggling to fathom quite where Christopher Landon’s parody Scouts’ Guide to a Zombie Apocalypse could take this narrative, especially given Shaun of the Dead seemed to tell all of the jokes there were to tell – Landon has somehow managed to discover space for more, making for a riotously entertaining feature.
On the evening of their final camping trip, three scouts – and lifelong friends, Ben (Tye Sheridan), Carter (Logan Miller) and Augie (Joey Morgan) find that they’ll be going above and beyond when it comes to earning their next badge – when they realise that the future of mankind could rest in their hands, when they attempt to save their town from a vicious zombie outbreak. Accidentally caused by a cleaner at a laboratory, the infection spreads like wildfire, and with the town consisting of countless, savage people on the streets, hunting for their next victim, the three young boys take it upon themselves to save the day, and for Ben, there’s also the motive of winning the heart of Carter’s older sister, Kendall Grant (Halston Sage) – but to do, they’ve got to kill a lot of zombies.
Landon affectionately riffs on the conventional, teen comedy, playing up to the tropes of the genre at hand. With a romantic angle also added, there’s many similarities to be drawn with Superbad – another comedy about three hapless, teenage boys, though while in the aforementioned Gregg Mottola picture they were striving to buy booze to save the day, in this title, they’re just attempting to kill the walking dead to save the day – while we again take on the perspective of endearingly pathetic protagonists.
But not everything we see in Scouts’ Guide is unoriginal, or taken from other projects, as Landon manages to display a sense of ingenuity and creativity amidst the hackneyed narrative. Mostly, that’s a result of the resourceful means of murder we see in this endeavour, while we also find roles for camp zombies, cat zombies and pensioner zombies, while we even get a glimpse of a zombie penis. Each brutally taken care of in a wickedly playful and deliberately overstated, imaginative manner. In the meantime, Sheridan impresses too, as the immensely talented young actor has discarded his troubled teenager routine from the likes of Mud and Joe, and showed off his aptitude for comic timing, while bearing the charisma and presence required to lead a film of this nature.
Scouts’ Guide to a Zombie Apocalypse is simply entertaining cinema, with an irreverence and exuberance which makes for a film that will have you laughing out loud on several instances – which can’t be said of many so-called comedies these days. With a consistent stream of inventive, puerile jokes, and a scattergun approach to telling them, this is the sort of film you’d just absolutely love at the age of 15. In fact, it’s the sort of film you’d be rather fond of at 50, too.