Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015)

Review first published by Sight & Sound, January 2016

Synopsis: Deer Field County, California, present day. After a janitor accidentally unleashes a zombie from a laboratory, teen boy scouts Ben, Carter and Augie set aside their differences and join forces with older stripclub cocktail waitress Denise. Under constant attack from undead townsfolk, they find out where Carter’s sister Kendall and other seniors are secretly partying, and launch a tooled-up rescue mission, with a nuclear strike on the town imminent. Nobly planning to blow themselves up along with the zombies, the three boys are saved by Denise at the last minute. Having practised with Denise, Ben kisses Kendall.

Review: Near everything you need to know about this knowingly juvenile romzomcom from Christopher B. Landon (Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones, 2014) is in its title, including the careless lack of possessive punctuation – although anyone patient enough to sit through the closing credits will get a different kind of apostrophe as a severed zombie’s head looks right into the camera and states with a resigned sigh, “Come on – the end.”

Three male sophomore high schoolers (played by Tye Sheridan, Carter Grant and Joey Morgan) must use their scouting skills to survive/stop an undead onslaught on their town, while living out their adolescent fantasies (watching a stripper zombie! groping a topless ‘hot cop’ zombie! rifling through a teenage girl’s underwear drawer! fighting off literal pussy! getting to practise kissing on a real adult cocktail waitress!) and their homosocial anxieties (having to use a zombie’s penis for a handgrip!). Not unlike the Landon-scripted Disturbia (2007), this film surreally defamiliarises white middle-class American suburbia by repopulating its leafy streets with zombified neighbours – but with its heady mix of pooh and fart gags, sexual curiosity/abhorrence and explosive gore, this is strictly for viewers the same age (and gender) as the principal characters.

Anton Bitel