Though a new member to the ever-increasingly tired zombie sub-genre, Christopher Landon’s Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse riffs affectionately on the tropes of the high-school teen comedy. With a romantic narrative prevalent, there are certainly shades of Superbad, in that we’re chronicling the underdog story of three hapless, awkward teenagers on a mission to come up trumps and save the day. Albeit in slightly more implicative circumstances, as in Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse the three boys have been tasked with saving the world – in Superbad, it was their job to merely save the party.
For scouts Ben (Tye Sheridan), Carter (Logan Miller) and Augie (Joey Morgan), it’s always been about the next badge, as they undergo several practical tasks to add more accolades to their growing collection. However what they haven’t ever achieved, is murdering hundreds of zombies, and saving the world from an epidemic that is spreading, swiftly, in their town – needing to be contained and eradicated before it’s too late. Having been accidentally caused by a clumsy cleaner at a laboratory, the three boys use their scouts knowledge as a resourceful means of approach, while Ben is otherwise concerned with winning over the heart of Carter’s older sister, Kendall (Halston Sage).
Zombie films are too boring these days, being an overcooked cinematic style that has been behind several productions in the last few years. From the parody Shaun of the Dead to a Shakespearian retelling in Warm Bodies; to the popular TV series The Walking Dead; to monotonous blockbusters such as World War Z, or the more intimate, family tales like Arnie’s recent picture Maggie. The list could go on too – but remarkably, in a surprising turn of events, Landon has managed to turn this sub-genre on its head and inject some life and innovation into proceedings, bringing something new to an already established stomping ground. Much of the ingenuity can be found in the rather inventive ways the zombies are killed, and the type of zombies we encounter – as the filmmaker’s must have had such an incredible degree of fun when crafting this narrative and the way in which to kill the antagonists. The tugging on a pensioner-zombie penis while hovering above a trampoline stands out.
Meanwhile, Sheridan stands out, with a natural charisma and screen presence which allows for him to carry this picture so well; as the young actor, renowned for portraying troubled youngsters in bleak dramas, shows off a real aptitude for comic timing. It’s emblematic of a production that has such an endearing irreverence and playful nature, making for an absurd, and yet completely unadulterated, unapologetically entertaining piece of cinema – and you simply cannot complain with that.