With a ridiculous title comes a ridiculous movie. Absurdity in comedy filmmaking can scare an audience, but in The Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse – a flick that is zany, but for a mainstream viewing audience – it’s played well and succeeds often. From ludicrous toilet jokes to crude, visual humour, director Christopher B. Landon (who made his name through the completely serious Paranormal Activity series), exhausts every trick in the hat to create a zombie romp that will please more than it disgusts.
The title speaks for the narrative, The Scouts Guide follows three teenage Scouts as they meander their way through the first night of a zombie invasion in their quaint American town. Simplicity is usually key in this genre, but here the weight of the film is lifted by the small ensemble cast. Tye Sheridan leads a group of four main characters and the young actor has already shown himself to be a growing talent through a diverse array of titles. Supporting Sheridan is Logan Miller, Sarah Dumont and Joey Morgan, the quartet share a spark and its this chemistry that lifts attention away from the weaker elements of the whole piece towards lighter territory.
Landon’s feature doesn’t take itself seriously and while that’s obvious from the early scenes, in which a janitor mimes to Iggy Azalea, and a deer finds itself reanimated as one of the living dead, as an audience you find yourself taking those involved seriously – that’s a feat in itself. Reviews have been entirely mixed, but there’s little to find fault with if you take The Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse for what it is – a lighthearted gore-fest that will make you squirm more than once.
Many have, and likely will continue to, compare Landon’s efforts to Zombieland but to do so would be unfair. Reuben Fleischer’s foray into the world of zombies through a comedic lens was a unique perspective with a deeper emotional core than many expected, it’s also more appealing to a wider audience than cult hit Shaun of the Dead – The Scouts Guide can’t compare with either. It doesn’t have the star appeal, the funding, or the original humour. What Landon’s film does have is style, a nostalgic soundtrack (which the director chooses to lean on for extra warmth), and a narrative that can be watched time and again.
Don’t overthink it and you’ll find yourself laughing along with the rest.