I know what you’re thinking. Is this the zombie version of Twilight? I can see why you’d think that. This is a story of (undead) boy meets (living) girl. They start falling for each other, even though their respective kinds would gladly kill each other if they ever spotted the other. I’ll just tell you now to get all Twilight comparisons out of your head now.
Warm Bodies is from the perspective of the zombie R (Nicholas Hoult). He is a wayward zombie who has a sarcastic inner monologue but can’t form more than a groan if he tries to speak. He remembers nothing of his past or even his real name, but daydreams about how life was before the zombie plague. He stumbles onto a group of humans led by Julie (Teresa Palmer) and ends up eating the brains of her boyfriend. These zombies eat brains because they soak up the memories of their victim. R basically falls in love with Julie at first sight and makes her act like a zombie to escape being devoured.
R keeps Julie hidden in his airplane abode, and as these two spend more time together, he feels his dead heart beat once again and relearns how to speak. As she sees his changes, she sees that he is not threatening and that there is hope for the zombies.
Wow, that description made it sound as disgustingly-romantic as Twilight. I’m sorry.
The reason this movie works is the humor. Whether ironic 80’s classics are played on R’s record player or he talks about his best friend (Rob Corddry) who sits at the bar and waits for drinks that will never come. The few times this movie takes itself seriously are when it shows the real threat to R and the human survivors, the “Bonies.” These monsters are zombies who completely rot and are fast moving predators, only driven by the sound of a heartbeat and their next quick meal.
Credit goes to Nicholas Hoult (Skins, About a Boy) who has to pull a Kristen Stewart the entire movie (Harder than it seems). He may be a little too pretty to play a zombie, but he has the undead shuffle down. At one point, he has to act human and run through city streets without detection. His hobbled run is classic and Hoult nails it.
John Malkovich plays Julie’s father and the staunch military leader of the human survivors. He essentially plays himself, but it’s refreshing having him in this kind of movie. I can’t really fault Teresa Palmer for anything. She has automatic immunity because she’s so bloody attractive.
I mentioned how funny this movie is, but it actually missed several opportunities to take it into “guffaw” territory. I think I’ve been spoiled by rated R zombie comedies that take the mayhem and blood lust a little bit further. If you didn’t see R snacking on brains every once in a while, you’d forget he was a zombie and think he was just an antisocial leper.
I’m calling this one the perfect date movie. It is a Zom-Rom-Com after all. Girls will like it because it is an overt Romeo and Juliet love story. Guys, you should be more than willing to take the ladies. Think about it… You get zombies, demons, bloodshed and dark humor. It’s really a win-win. If you want to save this for Valentine’s Day, I cannot blame you.
Warm Bodies isn’t a perfect movie, but it’s extremely watchable. It misses a few good opportunities to capitalize on big laughs. See this if only for the chance to see two zombie dudes talking about break ups.