Victor Halperin's White Zombie, released in 1932, is often cited to be the first zombie film. Since then, the so-called ‘zombie genre’ has become a veritable beast. It seems like, 84 years on, people still can’t get enough of these undead bastards. Films, TV, games, books, music – zombies have been everywhere. We love them, don’t we? But the problem with this is that people are running out of fresh ideas for the genre. Hollywood has come to assume that people will just blindly watch anything with zombies in it, thanks to the enormous success of TV’s The Walking Dead. Originality, or the lack thereof, is becoming irrelevant in this genre.
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse, which is out now on DVD & Blu-ray, is unfortunately a prime example of this. The film is a highly predictable teen comedy-horror, trying to do what Zombieland did – bring something new to the comedy zombie film after Shaun of the Dead – but failing. Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse follows Ben (Tye Sheridan), Carter (Logan Miller) and Augie (Joey Morgan), three high school students in a scout group led by Rogers (David Koechner). Of course, they’re outcasts and lust over the girls together – almost like an American Inbetweeners. One thing leads to another and they find themselves fighting their way through hordes of zombies in their small hometown, alongside Denise (Sarah Dumont) – a character who could quite easily anger feminist groups for the objectification on show. Spending almost the entire film in a tight white vest and denim shorts, she is purely here to be the ‘hot girl’.
But it’s debatable whether the target audience for this film will care – quite the contrary, they wouldn’t have it any other way. It’s no mistake that Sarah Dumont’s character has found herself front and centre on the UK DVD’s cover, and combining her characterisation with the juvenile humour throughout the film, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is quite clearly one for teenage boys. As such, is quality really to be expected? This film is made with the intention of being played at 2am during a wild sleepover with a bunch of young lads. They’re not expecting Citizen Kane, are they? They’re expecting jokes about a zombie’s dick being ripped off and thrown into another one’s mouth. Yes, that happens in this film. And that says it all. We don’t need to discuss the scene in which a zombie, ahem, ‘goes down’ on a girl, do we? I thought not…
Ultimately, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is a perfect indicator of how repetitive the zombie genre has become. While The Walking Dead still rightly dominates the genre, films like this are struggling to compete with it. And with Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead already out there, there’s not many jokes you can add to this story that haven’t been done before. It’s unfortunate, but it happens. Genres go stale. Look at Westerns - they were Hollywood’s biggest output in the 50s and 60s, but they ran out of ideas. Now, they’re a rare treat. One of these days, zombie films might go the same way. Just slow down, Hollywood.
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse knows its target audience and plays to this, but in doing so, alienates near-everyone else. There’s not a lot to like here if you’re not a teenage boy with a dirty mind, and this is where the film fails. But then, is it failing? Teenage boys, the intended audience, are probably eating it up - if you’ll pardon the pun. But on the other hand, it’s predictable, unoriginal and the acting isn’t great. If any young lads are reading this, give the film a look. You’ll love it. Anyone else? I’m sure you can find better ways to spend your time.
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse stumbles away with 2/5.
Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse at CeX
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