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‘Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse’: A typical horror-comedy

By Rich Bonaduce, Standard-Examiner Correspondent - | Oct 29, 2015
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Joey Morgan plays Augie in Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse from Paramount Pictures.

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Left to right: Tye Sheridan plays Ben, Sarah Dumont plays Denise, Logan Miller plays Carter and Joey Morgan plays Augie in SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE from Paramount Pictures.

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Left to right: Logan Miller plays Carter, Tye Sheridan plays Ben and Joey Morgan plays Augie in SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE from Paramount Pictures.

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Sarah Dumont plays Denise in SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE from Paramount Pictures.

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David Koechner who plays Scout Leader Rogers comes face-to-face with a zombie in SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE from Paramount Pictures.

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Left to right: Halston Sage plays Kendall Grant and Patrick Schwarzenegger plays Jeff in SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE from Paramount Pictures.

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Blake Anderson plays Ron the Janitor in SCOUTS GUIDE TO THE ZOMBIE APOCALYPSE from Paramount Pictures.

As evidenced by the lack of quality offerings out there, making a decent horror film is hard. Comedy is even harder. Mixing the two genres can make for disastrous results, and only a few have combined these seemingly disparate genres relatively well (think "Army of Darkness" or "An American Werewolf in London").

But for every "Shaun of the Dead" or "Zombieland," there's 10 "Scary Movie"s or "Critters"; and the "Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse" falls somewhere in between these extremes. It stabs at humor and has gore galore (which is mostly played for laughs as well); but it hits as much as it misses, with the obvious being exploited while other opportunities are simply wasted.

Review continues below video.

A small town is besieged by a zombie infection, as three scouts are largely protected from it since they were camping in the nearby woods. But upon return to the town to crash an invite-only party, they discover zombies have taken over, running amok in the streets. Utilizing their skills learned while earning various merit badges, they band together with a few survivors to stay alive and rescue who they can all while learning life lessons along the way and getting the girl.

It's a decent premise, one that might have been thought up (and seemingly written) after a few too many. The fun begins in the titles but doesn't hold up for most of the movie, particularly the second act. The first act is a decent setup which also sets the tone while quickly getting to the zombification of our heroes' small town. But the pacing in the second act drags the festivities down, while the third act recovers somewhat, but only on its own, juvenile terms. Imagine a zombie movie written by ninth-grade boys and you have a pretty good sense of what goes down in "Scouts Guide." Which is strange since the screenplay for this film was featured in the 2010 Blacklist of the "most liked" unmade scripts of that year.


THE FILM: 'Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse'


STARRING: Tye Sheridan, Logan Miller, Joey Morgan, Sarah Dumont, David Koechner, Halston Sage, Cloris Leachman

BEHIND THE SCENES: Originally entitled "Scouts VS Zombies" this film was shot in Cypress, California near Lexington Jr. High School. The police station scenes were filmed in Seal Beach, CA at a real police station. Dillon Francis DJ and producer who contributed music to this film plays the zombie that Augie shoots in the face in slow motion. Special effects make-up artist Brian Kinney, judge from Food Network's Halloween Wars, applied zombie make-up for the zombies in this film.

PLAYING: Layton Hills 9, Megaplex 13, Megaplex 14,

MPAA RATING: Rated R for zombie violence and gore, sexual material, graphic nudity, and language throughout. 93 minutes

Even stranger is that half of the writing team is female. Now, that's not to say that Carrie Lee Wilson and Lona Williams must be the epitome of empowerment or the representatives of all things female, but it is surprising that female characters are largely relegated to thin, supportive roles, while the main female protagonist Denise (Sarah Dumont, obviously cast for how she looks in a wife-beater and cutoff shorts) is a cocktail waitress in a stripper bar, who not only disappears for part of the film, but talks Ben (Tye Sheridan) into taking the woman he wants by just going up to her and planting one on her. But at least she gets to rescue our young Scouts on occasion while bringing in the cavalry.

If you're looking for this movie to take anything remotely seriously, you've come to the wrong place. "Scouts Guide" does not promise nor did it ever intend to be anything other than a horror-comedy from the ground up. But even on those terms, it delivers a mixed batch of chills and laughs. Loyal Ben (Sheridan), wise-cracking Carter (Logan Miller) and uncool Augie (Joey Morgan) are well cast, but the rest are throw-away, even David Koechner, Halston Sage and Cloris Leachman. "Scouts Guide" has all the charm and the pitfalls of low-budget filmmaking ("low-budget" meaning about $15 million): the extra attention devoted to gory effects, with much less attention paid to script, pacing, acting, etc. Director Christopher Landon is mainly known for his writing contributions to the "Paranormal Activity" franchise, but he did direct the halfway decent "Disturbia" in 2007, so he should probably know better. But then again, so should the writing team who has a fair amount of experience under their collective belt. But they go there, creating adolescent humor written by adults, with the cleverest moments being reserved for the selfie-inspired credits which are undermined by a lame mid-credits tag.


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