We’ve seen it a million times: Boy meets girl, boy gets girl, boy eats girl’s brains. But have we seen it with—wait, what?
OK, so this isn’t like Shaun of the Dead, where a zombie outbreak forms a backdrop for a romantic comedy, in Warm Bodies (written and directed by 50/50’s Jonathan Levine) our hero actually is a zombie.
A zombie named Rrrrrrrrrr. Well, just R but you get the idea. Our hero (Nicholas Hoult again!) falls in love with Julie (Teresa Palmer, I Am Number Four) and saves her from his “friends” (a pack of ravening zombies, what else?) and takes her back to his airplane, where he has a collection of—well, stuff you wouldn’t expect a zombie to have.
In other words, we’re taking liberties with the zombie concept. But this is no sparkly vampire crap: the opening scenes contain some graphic zombie violence (in typical zombie-movie fashion, with evisceration and gore) which make a mockery of the PG-13 rating.
I mean, it didn’t bug me (or The Flower, for that matter), and I suppose they show that on TV now, but it was a little jarring. It’s both necessary and atonal, if you can imagine such a thing. The movie settles down after that without much “cannibalism” but the squeamish will want to be aware.
Anyway, it’s necessary because these zombies are more like disaffected, alienated humans, and the movie never misses a chance to draw a parallel between the teen romance and zombie-ism. Which is kind of awesome.
There are uber-zombies, as well. These are zombies that have gone full-ghoul: Flesh almost completely gone, high speed and driven to kill even regular zombies from time-to-time. By comparison, your regular zombies seem almost lovable.
So, with this as your premise you can pretty much play out your standard Romantic-Comedy tropes and, why, it almost writes itself. But it doesn’t necessarily write itself well (much less direct) and while perhaps not a classic, it is a solid, enjoyable film that does something different with the whole zombie thing, and the whole RomCom thing, and the whole teen movie thing. (I think that’s the big three.)
There are just a million ways it could’ve gone wrong and it avoids most of them fairly gracefully. In that respect, it reminds of 50/50, which was a more serious topic but had many of the same liabilities in terms of balancing horrible or sad things without bogging down.
The Boy, The Flower and I all approved.