15 – 93mins – 2015
FREAKS & GEEKS
Long after they should have left their childhood troupe to partake in more age-appropriate teenage pursuits, high school sophomores Ben (Tye Sheridan) and Carter (Logan Miller) still find themselves regularly donning their striped kerchiefs and short shorts to placate passionate lifer and best bud Augie (Joey Morgan).
But when a loosed lab experiment turns their hometown population into flesh-hungry zombies, the reluctant scout-ateers are thankful for all their accrued survival skills as they battle murderous brain-munchers and fight to live long enough to lose their virginity – and for Augie to gain his Badge of Condor (the highest honour a scout can achieve, don’t you know).
From breaking through the chest of a corpse during a futile attempt at CPR to being attacked by zombified wildlife, the make up, animatronics and prosthetics are effectively gruesome and efficiently realised in director Christopher B. Landon’s colourful zom-com. Likewise, from headshots to raining wine, the methods of defence are gloriously violent, but any film which sets an attack sequence to Dolly Parton is never going to be scary – and Scouts Guide never really attempts to be, favouring garish and gaudy entertainment over creepy tension.
“I touched them! I touched them! I… don’t think they were real.”
While the splatter may be a cracker, the mindset is somewhat priapic. What starts out as a few eye-rolling, naïvely-vulgar teen-focused T&A gags (“Tongue-pound her salty walrus”) soon cannonballs into a barrage of immature sex jokes which are as insistent and unrelenting as Scout Leader Rogers’ (David Koechner) “Never say die!” attitude.
You have to hand it to this troupe, they are a plucky and spirited bunch, but to echo Ben and Carter’s sentiments: “It was fun when we were kids but we have grow up, man.” Similarly, Scouts Guide starts out as a wicked-fun retro B-movie adventure, but its quirky, blasé appeal diminishes before the campfire has sizzled out and everything that used to seem “cooler than cool” just feels a little forced and try-hard and as unappealing as a half-melted marshmallow.