Zombies are everywhere. They have invaded our TV screens with the popularity of The Walking Dead, books like The Zombie Survival Guide, video games like Left For Dead, and with movies like Warm Bodies. When you think of zombies, you think of decaying corpses with their dead eyes and an insatiable lust for brains. How is it possible to make a zombie desirable to a flesh and blood girl who is still alive? Warm Bodies somehow crafts this unlikely love story, which is both sweet and likeable.
Based on the novel by Isaac Marion, Warm Bodies stars Nicholas Hoult as the zombie R who isn’t like all the other zombies traipsing the earth in a post-apocalyptic world. R is a conflicted, thinking zombie who feels there’s more to life than just eating brains. He knows something is missing and there’s a deep sense of loneliness that keeps plaguing his daily undead life. R collects a ton of objects he finds from the outside world and brings it back to his humble abode which is an old, decrepit airplane. He enjoys music and listens to a number of vinyl records he has collected over time.
The entire zombie community is concentrated in a rundown, abandoned airport where everyone just slowly shuffles around and moans and groans all day long. R’s only friend in that community is M (played by Rob Corddry), but admits what little communication is conveyed between him and his friend in grunts, R has a desire to do more with his existence than fulfill a base urge to feed.
R’s lonely life is changed after he encounters Julie (played by Teresa Palmer) during a zombie mob, where R and his friends come out to find fresh food. When R first lays eyes on Julie he feels a strong connection to her and an urge to protect her than feast on her. R takes Julie back with him to his zombie infested home and makes every attempt at trying to get to know her.
Once the initial fear Julie feels toward R passes and she is certain he has no intention of making her his next meal, the next hurdle R has to overcome is how to confess to Julie that R accidentally ate her boyfriend Perry (played by Dave Franco), whose brains helps R absorb the memories of a life Perry has lived up until his bloody end.
Comparisons have been made between this movie and Twilight when it was first released in theaters. “It’s like Twilight, but with zombies!” I can see how people will draw those conclusions between the two films, but I think this movie is nothing like Twilight (and yes I have read the books and watched the films, for better or for worse). I will explain why without any significant spoilers to Warm Bodies.
R is aware his life is a bit empty and meaningless without there being something more important in his life than brains and shuffling slowly from place to place. He doesn’t know it yet but he’s craving to truly live again. When he sees Julie, he feels an instant connection. These feelings are very strange and new to him and he’s desperate to figure out what they mean. This is why he takes Julie with him even though this comes off as creepy and terrifying for Julie.
Edward in the Twilight films struggles with his desire to want to eat Bella and be with her at the same time. Edward does feel a connection to Bella but he actively runs away from it for her own safety. Bella, being intrigued, keeps pursuing Edward until he has no choice but to fess up to what he really is which is a vampire.
Julie knows who and what R is from the very start, so it’s not like she is actively trying to pursue R. He’s the one who takes Julie to his zombie abode without her having any say in the matter. It takes plenty of reassurance from R to convince Julie that he won’t eat or harm her before finally allowing herself to relax around him.
Between Bella and Julie, Julie is the smart one to think she should be afraid of zombies. Bella just has a death wish to walk right into dangerous situations because she’s dazzled by Edward’s eternal beauty and diamond luster skin.
Both Bella and Julie need to be saved by their undead boyfriend more than once. However, Bella seems hopelessly useless at getting herself out of dangerous situations, much less fight. Julie kicks ass. She has a gun and doesn’t hesitate to shoot it. Julie is no shrinking violet when it comes to zombies. She can manage in a fight and I get the impression she’ll fight until the bitter end.
The film does get a bit sappy towards the end, but it is a zombie love story. Both Nicholas Hoult and Teresa Palmer have good onscreen chemistry together and play off each other really well to be convincing as two people who eventually come together and fall in love against all odds. They’re both likeable and I feel at times the atmosphere between R and Julie isn’t as broody and intense compared to Edward and Bella. There’s plenty of humor to make this particular love story light and enjoyable all the way through. The Twilight films have a tendency to be a bit suffocating with the over-the-top emotions on display.
John Malkovich makes an appearance in the film as Julie’s overprotective, militant father who is hell bent on exterminating all zombies at whatever cost. There really isn’t much for him to do in this role, but he serves the purpose of being the one person who can possibly pose a threat to R and Julie being together.
If you enjoy zombies and like a little romance and humor with your zombie movie, you may find this film quite enjoyable. If you’re looking for the type of zombies you’d expect from an episode of The Walking Dead, then you may want to skip this one. Besides, Nicholas Hoult is probably the only good looking zombie I have ever seen come out of a movie in general. And you know, realistically, I don’t think I can fall in love with any zombie that comes out of The Walking Dead, unless I think having my face eaten off is my idea of true romance.
Reviewer Rating: 9/10