Tag Archives: Cooties

Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse (2015)

scouts guide

The title makes it sound stupid, but also potentially kinda fun. Scouts have been the butt of jokes for as long as I can remember, so I thought maybe Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalpyse might surprise with some silly laughs.

Rising star Tye Sheridan (soon to be in another Apocalpyse film, ie, as young Cyclops in X-Men: Apocalypse), Logan Miller and Joey Morgan are Ben, Carter and Augie, three high schoolers who grew up as scouts and are still part of a scout group. Naturally, there is a zombie outbreak, and these three resourceful young men are caught in the middle of it. The two main supporting characters are a strip bar waitress (Sarah Dumont) and their Scout Leader (the always welcome David Koechner). Teen starlet Halston Sage and Arnie’s son, Patrick, also have small roles.

The film is billed as a horror comedy, but there’s not much to be afraid of. All the blood and guts are comical and the tongue is always firmly in the cheek. The jokes, on the other hand, are nearly all juvenile, sophomoric gags, often related to stupidity or sex or random wackiness. It’s American Pie meets The Walking Dead.

In all honesty, I did laugh out loud a few times. If we’re talking the six-laugh test for a good comedy, I’m sure I came pretty close. There were a good deal of misses and occasions where I was like, “good try, but no,” though some of the hits turned out better than I expected.
The real problem with Scouts Guide is that it is awfully generic and doesn’t do much to take advantage of its intriguing premise. The fact that the three protagonists are scouts isn’t utilised nearly enough — take out a couple of gags and they really could have just been the guys from Superbad or any other teen flick. It’s almost as though they simply wanted to make a teen zombie comedy and threw in the scouts angle to try to distinguish itself from the market, rather than build the film around this premise.

As such, Scouts Guide to the Zombie Apocalypse feels like the waste of a good opportunity. Most normal adult moviegoers will probably find it too moronic to even give it a try, but if you’re in the mood for some breezy silliness you could get a few laughs out of it. As far as zombie comedies go, it’s a far weaker effort than Leigh Whannell’s Cooties.

2.75 stars out of 5

Cooties (2015)


If I told you there’s a horror-comedy called Cooties, you’d probably think it’s a piece of crap. But if I told you the movie stars Elijah Wood, Alison Pill (from The Newsroom), Rainn Wilson (from The Office, US version) Jack McBrayer (from 30 Rock) and Jorge Garcia (from Lost), and that it’s co-written by Leigh Whannell, the Aussie legend who gave us the Saw and Insidious franchises, then you might start to change your mind.

That was essentially my thought process for this oddball comedy, which I actually found to be surprisingly enjoyable and witty.

Some of you might remember that Elijah Wood once starred in a film called The Faculty, in which he played a nerdy student who leads the charge (along with Josh Hartnett) against teachers possessed by an alien entity. Cooties takes this core premise and flips it on its head, and this time, with Wood playing a nerdy teacher who must lead the charge against elementary school kids turned flesh-craving zombies due to contaminated chicken nuggets (exhibited during a gruesome opening sequence) served at the school cafeteria.

It’s a silly premise, but also kind of an edgy one, because on the one hand it makes a comment about the disgusting food we feed our children at school cafeterias, while on the other, it sets up a scenario where adults are not only terrified of children — they literally have to beat their brains out in order to survive. And despite the political incorrectness of the carnage, I’m pretty sure many teachers will (privately) agree that some children absolutely deserve it.

As expected, this is light film with a fun, tongue-in-cheek vibe. It’s wacky, it’s absurd and it’s surprisingly violent and bloody, though it would be a stretch to call the film scary. Apart from the stupidity of the characters and their reactions, many laughs come from Rainn Wilson’s moronic PE teacher, with McBrayer’s closeted gay art teacher coming in at a distant second. Leigh Whannell, who reserved for himself the role of the know-it-all science teacher who happens to be able to explain everything, is also pretty funny.

Thanks to the awesome cast and the unusual concept — which has zero regard for the unwritten rule that children never die in movies — Cooties is a much better film than it ought to have been. It is, however, one of those films where you probably have to be in the right mood and watch with the right people. Those hoping for genuine horror will be disappointed, while those looking for laughs will need to be on the same wavelength. As slight and unforgettable as it is, and despite running out of steam towards the end, I at least had a good time while I was watching it.

3.5 stars out of 5