Tuesday 10 November 2015

Review: Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse

World of Blackout Film Review

Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse Poster

Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse
Cert: 15 / 93 mins / Dir. Christopher Landon / Trailer
WoB Rating: 4/7

Take a good look at that poster, there. It may not be quite at Drew Struzan's level, but it's painstakingly executed in a classical style, and tells you everything you need to know about the tone of the film and the visual markers you'll get along the way. It's a bloody good one-sheet.
I imagine it also took more hours to bring to completion than the screenplay…

Okay, I should really try not to be too hard on Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalypse, as it's clearly been made on a restrictive budget. Then again, the effects, filming and general production values of the movie aren't the problem; that dubious honour belongs to the first-draft of a script stuffed to the gills with everyone else's stuff, and which appears to have been cast with the actors who agreed to the roles in the shortest time. Ploughing full-tilt into the 'horror-comedy' sub genre, the film can't decide which side of the fence it's based on, and the result is that it's not convincingly both, but neither.

As comedies go, it's broad and sloppy; but as a horror-flick, it's an outright mess. Equally in stylistic debt to Superbad and Shaun of the Dead, the film ropes in a couple of From Dusk Till Dawn's beats just to keep things moving. And as amiable as most of the movie is, SGttZA's not as funny, clever or heartwarming as its obvious influences, and it has nothing else to bring to the party to make up for that. It's as satisfyingly predicable as a greatest-hits album, but a one which is also being performed by a cover-band. There's also a definite air of "Oh, it's got Champ Kind from Anchorman in it! I guess that's where the budget went…"

Admittedly, my other main problem (and more tellingly, I think) is that I'm a massive, unashamed snob when it comes to zombie movies. I think they're very difficult to do 'right', and more to the point I'm glad that that's the case. There'll always be room in the market for schlocky knock-offs, where the "wouldn't it be cool if…" moments are more important than the craft. But if you're going to successfully navigate the land of the dead, you're going to need more than swagger, luck and an overworked knob-gag. This film wants to be Zombieland, but it's not even Cockneys vs Zombies. The comedy/horror (or horror/comedy) sub0genre isn't an overcrowded graveyard, but it's a one littered with failures and also-rans which should serve as a warning to all who fancy their chances.

But, credit where it's due: I smirked, I smiled and at one point I guffawed out loud. But I also rolled my eyes and winced more than I should have. When the film's on-form it's a perfectly enjoyable 'DVD with a few beers', but that's not a consistent state and there are a few scenes which shouldn't have made it into the shooting script, never mind the editing suite (to put it delicately*1, the film earns its 15 certificate more by poor-taste than actual gore).

Ultimately, Scouts Guide To The Zombie Apocalpyse isn't awful, it's just a transparent attempt by a studio to pick up any audience that isn't currently wanting to see James Bond.

You can't blame Paramount for trying, although in this case you can certainly blame them for not trying…

Is this film worth paying £10+ to see?
In case you hadn't gathered, no.

Well, I don't like the cinema. Buy it, rent it, or wait for it to be on telly?
Either a rental or £3 when it's on the bargain-shelf in Asda.

Does this film represent the best work of the leading performer(s)?
From the cast-members I've seen before? No.
From the ones I haven't? I hope not

Does the film achieve what it sets out to do?
Even with its low ambitions, not quite.

Will I think less of you if we disagree about how good/bad this film is?
Oddly, no.

Oh, and is there a Wilhelm Scream in it?
I didn't hear one, but there's a lot of wailing and shrieking going on. It's entirely possible that there's a Wilhelm mixed in there somewhere, but if that's the case then it's the only subtle thing about this film.

…but what's the Star Wars connection?
SGttZA stars Tye Sheridan, who's due to appear as Cyclops in X-Men: Apocalypse; a film which also features Rose 'Dormé' Byrne and the voice of Oscar 'Dameron' Isaac.

And if I HAD to put a number on it…

*1 Which is more delicate than anything the film does. Let's just say that stabbing a naked woman in the head with a broken bottle seemed less awkward when Nicholas Hoult did it, somehow..?
Oh, and how come if the old-lady-zombie can't bite Carter's arse because she hasn't got her false teeth in, the 'eating out' zombie manages to chomp away on his victim despite not having a lower-jaw? Answer: Because they're both incredibly cheap jokes which say more about the scriptwriting process than the film's actual dialogue.

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.
• Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.
• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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