“Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse” is rated R for zombie violence and gore, sexual material, graphic nudity, and language throughout. That means no one under 17 years of age will be admitted. I think the film might better serve its audience by not admitting anyone over the age of 17 because I’m not sure anyone much past Grade 11 will enjoy the movie’s mix of burps, blood and bursting bras.
When the zombie apocalypse hit their small California town Scouts and best friends Ben (Tye Sheridan), Carter (Logan Miller) and Augie (Joey Morgan) were in the woods on a camping trip. Untouched by the biological hazard that turns almost everyone in town into bloodthirsty brain eaters, they must mobilize, and use their Scout training—knowledge of knots, decision-making and other scoutcraft skills—to locate and rescue Kendall (Halston Sage), Carter’s sister and the girl of Ben’s dreams. Aided by a gun-toting cocktail waitress (Sarah Dumont) the boys follow the letter of the Scout Law—“to help other people at all times, to keep myself physically strong, mentally awake, and morally straight.”—to battle the zombies.
OK, they’re not always morally straight, but that’s the kind of movie this is. These boys don’t miss the chance to ogle a naked zombie or sneak into a strip club.
Imagine a “The Walking Dead” with post puberty boys and pre puberty jokes (the movie’s best gag comes in the form of a zombie wearing a YOLO t-shirt.). It’s a mash-up of high-school comedies and horror that doesn’t spare the fake plasma.
It works not because it’s the best zombie comedy ever—I’d nominate “Zombieland” or “Shaun of the Dead”—or that it has the grossest kills but because it has likeable characters. The guys are typical teens placed in an extraordinary situation. They rise to the challenge of vanquishing the undead and do so while learning about acceptance and responsibility. I’m not going to say it’s a message movie—it most definitely isn’t, but under the gallons of gore is an undeniable sweetness you usually don’t find in movies that feature disembowelments and exploding heads.
I’m not sure that Lord Baden-Powell would approve of “Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse” but for the right audience it should be a good Halloween matinee.