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Movie Review

Ben, Carter and Augie have been Scouts (not Boy Scouts, mind you, just … Scouts) almost as long as they can remember. And as their junior year of high school begins, overweight Augie's about to earn the top Scout honor: the Condor Badge. For Augie, being a Scout is It. And earning the Condor Badge is the pinnacle of Scout It-ness. All that's left is one last campout with his two best buds and a few final tests administered by their all-in, über-earnest mentor, Scout Leader Rogers.

There's just one problem: Ben and Carter have been quietly losing the Scouting faith. Being a Scout isn't cool anymore, they've concluded. It's certainly not increasing their chances of "scoring" with the ladies. And that's a big deal right now because, as Carter observes enthusiastically, "Junior year is when all the girls become sluts."

And wouldn't you know it, there's a big "score-ready" party planned for the same night as Augie's Condor campout. What's a desperate dude to do? Well, Carter's secret plan is to wait until Augie and Scout Leader Rogers are asleep, then sneak back into town with Ben, party all night, and be back by morning.

But I guess he wasn't quite counting on all the zombies showing up.

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Positive Elements

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse is built on a ridiculous premise: merit badge-wearing adolescents square off against a shambling, rotting, hungry horde of the undead. Oddly, underneath all the entrails and brains that get spilled and splashed are a couple of meek messages almost as earnest as Augie's and Scout Master Rogers' zeal for being Scouts:

Augie must come to grips with the fact that his friends have betrayed him and the Scout ideals he thought they embraced. Carter and Ben have to come to grips with how deeply their selfish choices have wounded their friend. And all of them have to rely on everything they ever learned as Scouts to survive.

Eventually, these boys are willing to sacrifice their lives to save one another and their town. "Guys, we're the last line of defense," Ben intones, noting that the world thinks they're just "dorks." "But tonight we're gonna show them what being a Scout is all about!"

Oh, and when Carter can't get cellphone service at the campsite, Augie aptly quips, "Mother Nature wants you to put the phone down."

Spiritual Content

They also make good on holding up the Scout pledge, which concludes with a reference to God: "To live courageously, to help others when I can, defend what I must, so help me God." We hear that one of the guys' parents are out of town at a "lame spiritual yoga retreat."

Sexual Content

The guys get lots of help through the night from a strip club cocktail waitress, a girl who rocks a shotgun as naturally as the plunging top and short shorts she wears.

Indeed, most of the sexual imagery here gets paired with violence.

Carter convinces Ben to sneak into the strip club, unaware that zombies have already taken over most of the town. A stripper appears, begins to dance and pulls off her top … before it becomes clear that she's undead. She "dies" again, nearly nude and covered in blood and viscera. And that's just a precursor for scene after scene after scene of explicitly salacious, hyper-sexualized and utterly frivolous violence.

A zombie penis gets screen time as it's tugged on, stretched and snapped. A high school girl is killed by a zombie who replaces her boyfriend during an oral sex encounter. Other visual "moments" are devoted to menstrual bleeding, a zombie's exposed breasts (which Carter squeezes), bare backsides, sensual dancing, sloppy kissing, same-sex kissing, mimed sex acts, condoms and panties. There are viciously crass comments made about tampons, chastity belts, male and female genitalia, anuses, oral sex, teens hooking up with other teens' moms, sexual lubricants and breasts.

Violent Content

Zombies are impaled, axed, whacked, shot, burnt, blown up, decapitated, skewered and run over. Then they're impaled, axed, whacked, shot, burnt, blown up, skewered and run over. Brains, intestines, limbs and every single sexual organ all have very, very bad things done to them. As do cats and a deer. And once the zombie flow starts, it never ebbs as our intrepid Scouts raid a hardware store for ever more outrageous ways to dispatch the horde of undead shamblers.

The guys' arsenal includes a weed whacker, a nail gun, etc. When Augie improvises a bomb, Carter says, "What are you, the Taliban?" And it's Carter who shoves a broken liquor bottle into the nearly naked stripper zombie's forehead, with the resulting gush of blood intended to resemble a tapped keg of beer.

That's just one of probably dozens of equally "creative" but gruesome killings we see up close and too personal for comfort. Suffice it to say that this is the kind of film that keeps companies like Fake Movie Blood 'R' Us in business.

Crude or Profane Language

Between 40 and 50 each of f- and s-words. God's name is abused a dozen times, often with "d--n." Jesus' name is tossed around six or seven times. Frequent vulgarities include "h---," "d--n, "p---," "b--ch," "d-bags," "d--k," "p---y," "ballsack" and "t-tties."

When Carter swears in front of Scout Master Rogers, the older man scolds, "Carter, language." Rogers' solution? Spitting out abbreviated profanities, "c-word" among them.)

Drug and Alcohol Content

Carter tries to get a homeless drunk to buy beer for them at a liquor store. The strip club waitress ends up doing it instead. We see Carter drinking beer at the campsite. Other high schoolers drink at a party.

Other Negative Elements

Multiple gags involve flatulence and belching. We see Augie on the toilet with diarrhea, even as he wipes. Carter takes a selfie with a dead deer and with zombies. ("I needed a new profile pic," he explains.)

Conclusion

Just when you're tempted to think you've seen it all, some random filmmaker takes that as a dare and dreams up unthinkable ways to do very, very, very bad things to every conceivable part of the human body.

The decaying undead meet their ends in Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse in myriad ways, of course. Heads get removed, pulverized, slammed, blow up, blown off, cut off, run through and generally beaten to a brain-dead pulp. That part of the fright flick is ghastly, but, alas, not unexpected.

Where Christopher Landon takes the dare I mentioned above, however, is in the way he manages to work both genitalia and breasts into the violence, sexualizing gore and brutality in ways that are intended to make us … laugh.

But … but … but the three Scouts learn important lessons about friendship, loyalty and perseverance! Isn't that worth something?

No. No. And no. Nobody needs to see a zombie sex scene turned murder scene to be reminded that friendship, loyalty and perseverance are good things.

Pro-social Content

Objectionable Content

Summary Advisory

Plot Summary

Christian Beliefs

Other Belief Systems

Authority Roles

Profanity/Violence

Kissing/Sex/Homosexuality

Discussion Topics

Additional Comments/Notes

Episode Reviews

Content Caution

Kids
Teens
Adults

Credits

Rating

R

Readability Age Range

Author

Cast

Tye Sheridan as Ben; Logan Miller as Carter; Joey Morgan as Augie; Sarah Dumont as Denise; David Koechner as Scout Leader Rogers; Halston Sage as Kendall; Cloris Leachman as Miss Fielder

Director

Christopher Landon ( Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones)

Distributor

Paramount

Network

Performance

Record Label

Platform

Publisher

In Theaters

October 30, 2015

On Video

January 5, 2016

Year Published

Awards

Reviewer

Adam R. Holz

We hope this review was both interesting and useful. Please share it with family and friends who would benefit from it as well.

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Plugged In Content Warning

This Plugged In review contains information about graphic sexual or violent content. It is not suitable for all ages. Reader discretion is advised.
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