Let’s get this straight, right here in the first paragraph: Warm Bodies, marketed as a zom-rom-com, is for sure more of a romantic comedy than it is a zombie movie. If you’re coming here looking for gore and guts galore, you’ll likely be disappointed. But that isn’t to say that Warm Bodies isn’t something of a gem in it’s own right.
The movie (based on the young adult book of the same name by Isaac Marion) revolves around R, played by Nicholas Hoult. R is a recently-reanimated zombie, living amongst other members of the undead and preying on humans, whose memories he can relive by eating their brains.
After he chows down on the brain of a boy named Perry, he finds himself in love with Perry’s girlfriend; feeling protective, he hides her from the other undead and forms a relationship with her. Gradually, it becomes clear that R’s humanity is returning, not that the living want anything to do with him…
One of the big selling points for Warm Bodies is it’s sense of humour. The voiceover R uses to narrate the film is brilliantly dry, underlining the similarities between disaffected youth and the zombie he’s become, while sharp one-liners and moments of physical comedy mark it out as successful in at least one part of that title. While the love story is predictable in and of itself, the background it’s set against gives it a bit of an edge over other young adult romances, like Twilight.
The cast, too, is pretty great – from Teresa Palmer’s instantly compassionate and warm Julie to John Malkovich’s brilliantly mad General Griogio, it’s a movie packed with performances that probably wouldn’t fit into the more traditional kind of zombie horror. Indeed, the plot gives a bit more space to flesh out characters, and the decision to tell it from a zombie’s point of view does offer an interesting new take on the genre (even if films like Colin (2008) did it to greater effect).
There are a handful of action sequences packed in here and there that keep the film from falling too much into the soppy, gooey mess it occasionally threatens to be, but overall the film shies away of actually giving us any outright horror – I guess when you’re telling the story from the point of view of the monster, you lose some of that element of surprise. But high production values give the whole thing a pleasingly slick feel, so when those moments of adrenalin do turn up, they’re at least handled well and keep the pace at a reasonably fast zombie lollop.
Don’t be fooled by the fact that this has zombies in it, because it’s simply not a traditional zombie film – there’s little brain-munching or shotguns to the head. But there’s plenty of heart, and this is a movie that has a genuinely soft centre. Whether that’s what you’re looking for in a zombie movie or not is up to you, but Warm Bodies is an interestingly little quirk in the zombie movie landscape.
Watch the trailer for Warm Bodies:
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Written by: Louise MacGregor