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Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015)

Paramount Home Entertainment
Blu-ray Disc Released: 1/5/2016

All Ratings out of

Movie:

Video:
1/2
Audio:
1/2
Extras:


Review by Mike Long, Posted on 1/2/2016

To say that horror movies follow trends would be a wild understatement. When a certain type of scary film becomes popular, the imitators and rip-offs come out of the woodwork. Over the years, we've seen cycles of slasher movies, vampire movies, snarky slasher movies, and serial killers. For the past decade or so, we've been knee-deep in a zombie cycle which shows no signs of letting up. As if the movies, like World War Z and Dawn of the Dead, weren't popular enough, TV's The Walking Dead has made zombies acceptable for soccer moms. This raises the question, when a sub-genre has infiltrated movies, TV, and home video (not to mention video games as well), how can you tell when it's nearing the end? A good sign may be a movie like Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse.

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse introduces us to Ben (Tye Sheridan), Carter (Logan Miller), and Augie (Joey Morgan), three high school students who are still in Scouting. While Augie is still very enthusiastic about the activities, but Ben and Carter really want to quit. Especially tonight, as their scheduled camping trip is going to interfere with a big party which Ben and Carter want to attend. Unbeknownst to the boys, an accident at a nearby lab has created a zombie outbreak in town. While Augie is sleeping, Ben and Carter sneak away from the campsite, only to be confronted by the living dead. Teaming up with a plucky cocktail waitress named Denise (Sarah Dumont), they must fight their way out of town.

With his previous works, writer/director Christopher Landon, son of the late actor Michael Landon, has shown an incredible knack for shooting for the middle. With movies like Disturbia (a modern-day knock-off of Rear Window), and the last three Paranormal Activity movies (Paranormal Activity 3, Paranormal Activity 4, and Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones) he has been involved with movies which are often mildly interesting, but never do anything to break new ground. They are sort of like the fast-food version of movies -- itís nothing original, itís not decidedly good, but itís not awful either.

The same thing goes for Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse. Working from a script by Carrie Evans and Emi Mochizuki, which he had some hand in re-writing, Landon delivers a movie which feels very familiar. Itís got elements of The Goonies, itís got elements of Shaun of the Dead, and, for good measure, thereís a little Superbad thrown in there as well. From the interactions between the main characters to the zombie invasion to the big party scene, nothing in this movie feels the least bit original. It literally feels like someone said, ďHey, letís take the smartass kids from a teenager movie and drop them in the middle of a zombie movie. That will work, right?Ē This may have looked good on paper, but it falls in line with all of the other zombie-comedies which came in the wake of Shaun of the Dead, further proving that Simon Pegg, Nick Frost, and Edgar Wright truly broke the mold with that movie.

Itís surprising that two women were at the core of this project, as the film is essentially an adolescent male fantasy complete with guns, breasts and monsters. And adolescent boys are clearly the target audience for this movie, despite its R rating. Catering to that ADHD crowd, the movie hits the ground running, introducing, but never fully explaining a zombie outbreak. From there, itís scene after scene of either rude language or bloody violence, including a scene involving genitalia that I think was supposed to be funny...but it wasnít. All of this would be great if the movie had any real heart. It tries to summon some emotion with the friendship between the three boys, but this is merely a soggy glue which is asked to hold together an extremely banal movie.

The strangest thing about Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is that the whole ďScoutĒ thing is simply a gimmick. (Note that these arenít official Boy Scouts of America that weíre dealing with here.) They have their uniforms and they camp, but otherwise they donít have any special skills or traits. This is just another example of how extremely vanilla this movie is. Perhaps itís time for a new monster to capture the imagination of horror cinema.

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse should have focused more on how Sarah Dumont simply steps over a fence on Blu-ray Disc courtesy of Paramount Home Entertainment. The film has been letterboxed at 2.35:1 and the Disc contains an AVC 1080p HD transfer which runs at an average of 25 Mbps. The image is sharp and clear, showing no grain or defects from the source materials. The colors look especially good and the image is never overly dark or bright. The level of detail is surprisingly good and the depth is impressive as well. The Disc carries a DTS-HD Master Audio track which runs at 48 kHz and an average of 4.5 Mbps. The track provides clear dialogue and sound effects. The stereo effects show good separation, as the sounds coming from off-screen come from the right and left channels. The surround sound effects show good detail and the subwoofer effects emphasize each gunshot and explosion.

The Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse Blu-ray Disc contains a few extras. "Scouts Guide to Filmmaking" (30 minutes) is an in-depth making-of which features a wealth of comments from the actors and the creative team, including the director, producer, and writers. The piece looks at the film's origins, the casting process (a lot of time is spent on the actors), the film's feel, the stunts, the special-effects makeup, the locations, and the film's production. "The Zombie Makeup FX Handbook" (6 minutes) takes us back-stage to see the creation and the application of the film's zombie makeup, while "Undead Movement Guidelines: Zombie Choreography" (5 minutes) examines how Mark Steger perfected how the living dead should walk. Costume Designer Marylou Lim discusses how she dressed the Scouts and the zombies in "Uniforms and You: Costume Design" (5 minutes). The Disc contains two DELETED SCENES which about 3 minutes.

Review Copyright 2016 by Mike Long