Warm Bodies (dir. Jonathan Levine, 2013) – After saving Julie during his hunt for brains, zombie R finds the cure he has been looking for.
Love never dies but verges on ridiculous peculiarity, fun in its own eccentric fashion.
Hardly sentient corpses, who feed on their own kind – zombies are probably the last thing on anyone’s list to romanticise. But that hardly seems fair when forbidden romances with bloodthirsty shape-shifters are now all the rage. Judging from the reception of World War Z, a Zombieland 2.0, and the forever Walking Dead, it is clear that the genre would never stay dead for long. One certainly has to consider, why the hell not.
So we get Warm Bodies, a reinvention of the genre in an eclectic mish-mash. As absurd as it sounds, the rom-zom-com does not clamour for brains. Wit à la Shaun of the Dead is nowhere to be found. More quirky than dark, the film sets itself apart by stitching up a rather loose definition of ‘zombies’.
Given speaking roles, the creatures behave less like zombies than a member of Goth Anonymous, with a serious side of social anxiety issues. Setting a fairly ludicrous tone, the eccentricity then ventures far enough to proclaim love as the cure to the infection.
A collective sigh later, we see little bright spots in the optimistic fairy tale. Charm is found in its leading dead men walking. Able to grunt a word but not more than two, Nicholas Hoult’s awkward teenage zombie R narrates his thoughts as well as his regressing mind allows him to. From his perspective, the clever reversal of roles makes him possibly the most empathetic zombie in film history. Rob Corddry as his undead best friend M is not quite as thoughtful, but it is hard not to love the funnier of the pair.
Both look almost human when they shuffle alongside the computer re-animated ‘Boneys’. These are the zombies that are much closer to the ones we are acquainted with; they kill without being conflicted about it. But there is little danger in the battle, when we are constantly reminded that this is less a horror film than a warming coming-of-age story.
Offbeat humour makes for light entertainment. It also helps that the action plays over a great music selection including Guns N’ Roses and Scorpions. Drawing parallels to Romeo and Juliet and stopping short of the tragedy, the romantic bits may warm some tender hearts. For others who expect a little more action, this may drag along like Romero’s shambling zombies.