SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE, US, 2015. Starring Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Joey Morgan, Sarah Dumont, David Koechner, Cloris Leachman, Halston Sage. Directed by Christopher Langdon. 93 minutes. Rated MA (Strong comedic horror violence and sexual references).
If the title sounds off-putting, then be off-put. If the title sounds somewhat intriguing, then perhaps it might be worth trying out since you are a zombie movie fan on the lookout for something zany.
This could be called something of a Night of the Living Dead Junior.
It opens with a zombie-like cleaner at an experimental lab who, of course, unleashes a zombie who then goes on a rampage, biting and creating a town full of living dead.
But, the film also introduces the local Scout team, three young men in their mid-teens and a very earnest scoutmaster, played by comedian David Koechner looking quite strange with a hairpiece (which soon gets knocked off). The three boys are a mixture, the last remnants of the Scouts squad, unable to recruit anyone knew and staying on for the sake of the scoutmaster. The sympathetic one is Ben, played by Tye Sheridan, who looks too smart and serious to be acting in this kind of film. On the other hand, Logan Miller as Carter is pretty hormonal, horizons fairly limited by sexual longings and curiosity. Then there is Augie, the earnest nerd Scout, accumulating his badges, loyal to the scoutmaster, pudgy and eating too much – but, it must be admitted, the screenplay gives him plenty to do in combat.
The two Scouts want to leave Augie and sneak out to a party but have been given the wrong address, going back into town where they have previously found a glamorous stripper, oops, cocktail waitress, from the local joint who has bought them beer. Going back into town, and seeing the bouncer from the club absent, in they go, only to find the place empty – except for a zombie dancer – and then the pursuit is on. The film does give quite a lot of extras the opportunity to lurch around the town as zombies, pursue humans and get bashed, shot, decapitated etc.This includes the scoutmaster as well as a cranky old lady, played by Cloris Leachman who perhaps is fulfilling a life’s ambition to play a zombie!
It probably helps to appreciate this film if you are a boy aged between 12 and 16, enjoying the kind of bodily function jokes, sex anticipations, that are generally attributed to the imagination of boys of this age.
The cocktail waitress helps the boys in their various attempts to find the party, to report the apocalypse to the authorities, to save anybody they can.
Which means there that this is something of the tail end of a long resurgence of zombie stories on our screens, some slapstick and juvenile humour, with the touch of the rights of passage themes.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film & Broadcasting.
Paramount. Released November 5th