Title: Warm BodiesDirector: Jonathan Levine
Starring: Nicolas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Rob Corddry, Dave Franco, Analeigh Tipton, Cory Hardrict, John Malkovich
Plot: Eight years after the zombie apocalypse, R (Hoult) a zombie spends his days wandering around an airport with his fellow zombies. Things however get complicated for R when he finds himself mysteriously drawn to the survivor Julie (Palmer). Worse still these feelings only get stronger when he eats her boyfriend’s brains, which in turn give him his memories as well.
Review: Going into this film I had big expectations, especially seeing how it was the first zombie romance I’d seen since “Zombie Honeymoon”. A refreshing twist to a horror sub-genre which it’s safe to say has become seriously overworked in recent years, with every low budget film maker seemingly churning out their own zombie movie, so it helped that the plot of this one finally sounded like it was bringing something new. Of course if you look a little deeper you can also see that Levine perhaps less obviously here is also attempting to rework “Romeo and Juliet” only with added zombies.
Opening after the apocalypse, humanity has now retreated to a fortified enclave lead by Colonel Grigio (Malkovich), who bad news for R is also Julie’s father. Meanwhile the zombies have taken over the surrounding city, while also evolving into two distinct groups consisting of your traditional shambling zombies and a new group called Boneys who are zombies who have shed their flesh and in doing so turned into speedier skeleton versions of their former undead selves.
Okay so this is pretty much nothing different than pretty much any other zombie movie, but unlike those films R is also the narrator as he frequently shares his thoughts on his situation and all in perfect English, which I guess was kind of a given as otherwise we’d just get a bunch of unintelligent grunts and groans. At the same time this also gives the first of its major issues for R who is supposed to be your run of a mill zombie, for some reason is capable opening doors, collecting objects for his airplane home and even able to talk (outside of his internal monologue). Frustratingly no reason is given for why he is able to do any of this especially when his character is setup to be no different than any other zombie.
The other main issue I have the film is that the reason for R suddenly developing feelings or why his fellow zombies also starting to regain their humanity is never given. All we get are a bunch of highlighted hearts beating and that seemingly we are expected to just except that these events are happening. Perhaps Levine was hoping that we would seemingly be so charmed by this unorthodox relationship that we would overlook such glaring issues.
The relationship element of the film falls pretty flat, no doubt due to that tricky line between being romantic and necrophilia. As such it largely come off playing like an awkward friendship as the pair hide out in R’s hideaway listening to records and playing cliché games after he rescues her after her scavenger mission falls apart. Yes the fact that R ate her boyfriend’s brains adds a slightly interesting angle though loses a lot of its power thanks to some clumsy plotting, but again this would have worked just as well had the film been about Julie making friends with R, as her finding out that her new best friend also ate her boyfriend’s brain would have still made for a fun twist. I guess selling a movie on the idea of a boy girl plutonic doesn’t sell tickets in the eyes of the studio heads, I mean *Spoiler Alert* even “When Harry Met Sally” ended up with them getting together *Spoiler End*. It’s a shame really as both Hoult and Palmer have some limited chemistry together which is kind of stunted due to one of them being a zombie, while the ending really is more of a middle finger to the audience, while essentially the only way I guess that they could get around that necrophilia issue.
While the main plot is frequently a source of frustration there are still a number of fun moments scattered throughout the film, such as Julie attempting to teach R to drive or Julie being told off by R for her zombie impression being too much. R’s narration is also contains several fantastically dry observations, which see him lamenting on his decomposing state yet treating it the same way as an everyday problem. The ending also features some fun action scenes, even if they are hampered slightly by Malkovich sleep walking his way through the film when he eventually shows up, lacking any of his usual presence.
Perhaps because I entered this film with such high hopes, which is usually the riskiest way to watch anything and once again proves to be the case here as the film fell pretty much flat for me, more so when the zombies randomly regain their humanity, as while I could except R regaining some form of humanity but its really pushing it for all of them to suddenly go through this random and sudden transformation, much less when it’s given no explanation. I guess we should be thankful that it was bloody vampires again!