I don’t recall if it was Rogers on Demand or maybe pre-roll YouTube ads, but I remember seeing the exact same ad for Scout’s Guide to the Apocalypse over and over again, which tainted my view of the entire movie. The main gag they focused on was a character taking a pic of himself with a zombie and saying he needed a new profile pic. It made me never want to see this movie. I’ve had some time away from that commercial so I was ready to dive in and give this movie a shot. I’ve had a pretty rotten streak with horror movies in recent days so the hope was this one would bring some glimmer of hope back into this marathon.
Ben and Carter have been scouts for years, though recently they are only hanging around to support their friend Augie after he lost his father. They are ready to quit, but don’t want to hurt Augie’s feelings. They are invited to a party by Carter’s sister’s boyfriend and decide to ditch out on at Augie at their campfire in order to attend. Plans are derailed by zombies and the rest of the movie doesn’t have much of a plot, with things mostly moving from one zombie encounter to the next.
I remember people saying the whole zombie thing had run its course even when The Walking Dead premiered and that was what? Seven years ago now? I personally am not ready to give up on the world of zombies (things like iZombie still exist to show we can’t abandon them completely), but it definitely feels like the subgenre has run out of original ways to present a zombie threat. That is actually the biggest detriment to this movie – it largely feels like just another one of these kinds of movies. The idea of them being scouts who can make use of a variety of creative ways to dispatch zombies is only briefly touched on, until the finale when they fully embrace the concept. It’s a very fun finale, but I could have used more of that level of insanity along the way.
The three leads are pretty good. Ben is a bland character, but actor Tye Sheridan makes him an enjoyable enough lead. Carter isn’t nearly as annoying as the early scenes/that one commercial I kept seeing had me expecting him to be. I’m always terrified of the comedy relief characters in these movies as the writers often tend to mix-up “horribly obnoxious and a terrible human being” with “absolutely hilarious.” You can look at movies like The Shallows or especially Project X for good examples of this phenomenon. Augie is set-up to the clumsy, idiot sidekick but holds his own well and becomes a solid character in his own right. There’s also Denise, the girl the three main guys are all obsessed with, who takes charge of the situation and spends a great deal of the time shooting zombies in the face with a shotgun. They aren’t characters I will carry with me now that I’ve finished watching the movie, but they were far better written than I ever would have expected them to be.
The movie is a hard R so you get a lot of what you would hope to out of a movie like this. The gore effects are solid, with most looking to have been done practically as I can only recall a few instances where the blood looked all fake and computer-y. The finale is the highlight without a doubt, as the main trio cut through a horde of zombies at a party using a bunch of makeshift devices they cobbled together at a hardware store. This sequence alone is a better Dead Rising movie than the actual Dead Rising movie…which apparently has a sequel now. Huh. That’s unfortunate because now I’m sure I’ll watch that before this year’s marathon is done.
As a horror-comedy, the comedy is mostly ok. I got a few chuckles and a few minor laughs, but that’s about it. It does rely on sexual humour more than I would have expected, with both zombie boobs and a zombie penis getting extended screen time. The shock value works for about a second, but these bits tend to drag on. The more successful humor is the dialogue between the characters and their reactions to everything happening around them, at least when it’s not Carter talking about getting laid and the usual teen sex comedy tropes.
I can’t muster up a whole lot of enthusiasm for Scout’s Guide to the Apocalypse. It’s a perfectly fine entry into the world of zombie movies. It’s not scary, its occasionally funny, but it remains entertaining the whole time, with a burst of adrenaline coming near the end that the whole movie could have benefited from. I wish it had gotten more use of its scout concept as well. It’s a fine movie to watch this Halloween season and just have 90 minutes of decent fun.