In a similar vein to Pride and Prejudice and Zombies, Zombie Strippers and KFZ (Kentucky Fried Zombies), recent cinematic release Scout’s Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse attempts to draw in hordes of unsuspecting victims to the movies on name alone. Capitalising on the undead brand, Scout’s Guide slaps the word ‘zombie’ on the end of its title to ensure devoted followers of the genre (and there are many) will be in attendance.
Critics have hailed the film as ‘shameless’ but I think a more accurate term would be ‘unoriginal’, here lies the true criticism of an otherwise pretty amusing film. The finished product is entertaining enough, and will no doubt attract fans for years to come, but a bikini-clad stripper graphically blasting the face off a zombie with a shotgun in front of a gaggle of nerdy, mega-virgin boys is absolutely nothing new to the genre. In fact, the only original element to the plot is the introduction of the all American boy scout, despite the litter of crazed zombie kittens that also make an appearance (though they are usually zombified dogs; think Cujo or The Hills Have Eyes). The boy scout characters are the key to this films few successes as they attempt to use their scouting knowledge to tie knots and, as the synopsis points out, ‘earn their zombie-killing badges’. ‘We’re scouts, we’re trained for this’, bleats one of the main protagonists, just one of the regular reminders of the key selling point of the movie (behind the Z-that-must-not-be-named word).
So, who does this blood-splattered comedy appeal to? It’s clear that they are going for the horror comedy audience in all their slapstick gore and gags, also boys (scouts, strippers and guns – yay!) yet the wider cinematic release of this film suggests that, much like the brain-eating zombies, they’re coming for everyone. Lines such as ‘tonight we will show them what being a real scout is all about’, are sure fire ways to excite a juvenile male audience, as is the poster tagline ‘be sure to bring protection’. Ultimately though, this is a film for the masses. I mean, who doesn’t love a proper American high school comedy with an apocalypse and granny zombies thrown in the mix?
With the rash of horror comedies out there, which continues to spread, it’s almost impossible to create something decent and truly original. Not only is ‘zom-com’ (zombie comedy) an established genre of film, television and literature but so too is the ‘zom-rom-com’ (zombie romantic comedy) with scours of writers and directors cashing in on a bit of light hearted Z-slaying. With that, Scout’s Guide probably achieves what it set out to do: entertain and get a few laughs. It’s impossible to imagine that the films writers believed they were creating something original – in order for the zombie comedy to be relevant it must exist within a dialogue of similar flicks. In short: Scout’s Guide is no Shaun of the Dead, it isn’t even a Cockneys vs Zombies, but it does succeed in its funniest moments and will be a darling to fans of the genre despite being proven as a box office flop, like so many zom-coms before it.
Image: Paramount Pictures