Warm Bodies Heats Up Theaters

While movies and television have lately been plagued with the apocalyptic and zombie genres, few have really delved into the mind and emotions of the flesh-eating monsters. Rarely are the movies or shows ever written from their point of view, and they hardly ever have a zombie romance.

However, Warm Bodies, written and directed by Jonathan Levine, seems to have created a genre of its own-meshing together romantic comedy and zombie-horror in a clever way.

The zombies are not portrayed as the villains per se, but rather  are victims of a plague in limbo between their former human lives and their ultimate demise. The film is narrated by R (Nicholas Hoult), a zombie, whose only memory of his human life is that his name began with an R.

During a routine feeding on some of the few humans who have survived the mysterious zombie-causing epidemic, R meets Julie and becomes immediately drawn to her after eating her boyfriend’s brains (romantic, huh?). R then adopts some of the late boyfriend’s memories with Julie and is inclined to protect her.

Julie (Teresa Palmer) is a witty, fearless tomboy whose charisma is definitely an asset to the film. After saving her from his fellow undead, R begins to bond with Julie over similar music interests, old records and other artifacts R has collected over time. The connection he makes with her slowly begins to humanize him and as anyone could have predicted, they fall in love.

However, they run into some complications. Julie’s father is the head of a group of mercenaries with the intent to eliminate all of the zombies, and Julie must eventually return the favor of R saving her. They also must avoid the “Bonies,” skeletal villains that all zombies eventually become once they lose all aspects of their humanity and no longer have any control over their minds.

Despite an absolutely absurd plot, the likability and chemistry of the characters makes it actually believable and oddly romantic. While the whole “love conquers all” theme is relatively unoriginal and predictable, the zombie twist helps it avoid the label of a total cliché.

The comedic aspect of the film rests almost entirely on Hoult’s inner monologue as R and the one-liners delivered by his best zombie friend M (Rob Corddry), but the humor dwindles away by the end of the movie.

The comedy and eccentricity of the plot seem to be the only thing separating Warm Bodies from your average cheesy romance. There is definitely not as much suspense or gore as one would expect from a stereotypical zombie movie, but this is forgivable considering the main element of the film is the unfolding love-story.

With the assistance of excellent makeup, Hoult makes for a very convincing zombie. Despite having hardly any lines (excluding his narration of course), he still manages to give an impressive and comedic performance through his body language and physical disposition. This isn’t surprising given Hoult’s background. He received much critical acclaim in 2002’s About a Boy and in the raunchy hit British series “Skins.”

All of the actors, including those with supporting roles like Corddry and Julie’s friend Nora (Analeigh Tipton), delivered notable performances, and with a less adequate cast the movie would have been a total disaster. Considering the unconventionality of the relationship between R and Julie, it was crucial for the two to give solid performances in order for it to be at all relatable and thankfully they succeeded.

The soundtrack included music from Guns ‘N Roses, Bruce Springsteen, Bon Iver and Bob Dylan, to name a few, and was definitely a nice touch to the film. All of the music was appropriate for the scene and played at just the right times.

The PG-13 movie is definitely directed towards the teen audience (and rightfully so) with only slight violence and some crude language.

The finished product was likely the best they could do given the storyline. While it wasn’t a complete waste of 97 minutes, it definitely was not a movie I’d think about watching a second time. Then again, when making a romance movie with zombies and trying to include action, sentiment and humor, mediocrity is pretty much inevitable.