Before watching Warm Bodies, I was initially concerned that it was going to be a zombie film for the Twilight crowd – and after watching the film, I would still agree with this. Whilst Warm Bodies does not exactly manage to convince that the zombie works as a romantic subject – director Jonathan Levine should be applauded for trying something original with a wry sense of wit and charm.
Warm Bodies follows R (Nicholas Hoult), a somewhat intelligent zombie who saves Julie (Teresa Palmer) a human female from an attack. Gradually Julie begins to notice R is redeveloping his human characteristics, yet faces confrontation from her father (John Malkovich) – a bloodthirsty resistance leader.
Warm Bodies opens with a blend of comedy, action and horror, with R making some statements about how our technology obsessed society was already zombified anyway as we see hordes of the creatures swarm an abandoned airport. This is soon followed by an action-packed raid where young resistance fighters Julie and her boyfriend Perry (Dave Franco) take-on the creatures – resulting in Perry’s death. Onwards from this Levine’s heavy emphasis on the relationship between R and Julie may alienate a few horror fans, who were initially enticed by the zombie concept, however.
There are a variety of flaky teen/coming of age clichés that Levine uses at full force when capturing the relationship between R and Julie – such as R’s passion for alternative music vinyls. Call me old fashioned but I’d rather my zombies were feasting on brains than listening to Bon Iver. That said, even as a sceptic, I cannot deny that Levine does well at crafting a convincing relationship between the pair – slowly capturing a very human relationship at its heart.
Hoult does well at gradually showcasing these human characteristics emerging through the zombie persona, whilst Teresa Palmer does an honourable job at bringing them out. Both actors handle the charm and bite of Levine’s humorous screenplay rather well – but these are roles that are unlikely to be standouts in the pair’s careers. John Malkovich is a welcome addition to the cast – hamming it up as a zombie hungry fighter, whilst Dave Franco manages to make a lasting impression in a smaller role.
The mix of zombies and romance may prove an uneven mix – that ultimately never feels quite right. However, Levine does a solid job thanks to an inventive screenplay and charming direction. So there we have it, zombies don’t need brains – just love, but they’re more fun when they need brains…