Warm Bodies is a clever romantic-comedy with a paranormal twist. It is directed by Jonathan Levine, whose previous credits include the critically acclaimed genre bending comedies The Wackness and 50/50.
Based on Isaac Marion's cult novel of the same name, Warm Bodies centres on R (rising star Nicholas Hoult), a young zombie stuck in a post-apocalyptic American wasteland. He has no memory of his pre-zombie life and spends his days wandering around a sprawling airport with the fellow undead. But R is struggling with his current identity, he yearns for something more in his life and finds himself, by his own admission, "conflicted" over the idea of "[consuming] anything with a heartbeat". And whilst he enjoys a classic ballad or two (Bruce Springsteen's 'Hungry Heart" being just one particular highlight) - he is certainly no vegan.
In search of human flesh, R, accompanied by a horde of zombies, treks back into the abandoned city and eventually stumbles upon a ragtag team of human survivors led by Perry (Dave Franco). Instinctively, R violently attacks Perry and consumes his brain, making sure not to infect his victim's body with the zombie 'curse'. In the midst of the attack, R notices a terrified Julie (Teresa Palmer) cowering underneath a table as the other zombies pick up on her scent. He chooses to protect her by delicately smearing the blood of the human victims on her face and directs her to follow him. With no other choice, Julie silently joins R and the zombie horde as they return to the airport.
R takes Julie to his 'home', a 747 plane littered with a host of found objects. Julie, despite knowing R saved her life is angered by his actions, leaving him feeling rejected and distanced. Still, R tries to show her kindness, offering a blanket for warmth and what little food and beverages he can find. Julie begins to realise that R's 'infection' is actually a 'curse' and that he still has human emotions, which goes against what she has been led to believe by her father, General Grigio (John Malkovich), the leader of the human resistance.
In the abandoned airport, away from the prejudices of each other's worlds, R and Julie soon become fast friends - fascinated by their similarities. But when R can no longer protect Julie from the 'bonies' (skeletal zombies without any trace of humanity), he decides to take her home. Their journey into the city isn't without conflict, as R's growing connection with Julie results in unexpected changes in not only himself, but all the other zombies as well.
With numerous references to the William Shakespeare classic, Romeo & Juliet, Warm Bodies is unashamedly a love story at its (bloody) heart, with a lot of bite, thanks to the delightful pairing of a deadpan Hoult and charming Palmer. In fact, the unlikely pairing is somewhat reminiscent of the forbidden relationship of Edward and Kim in Tim Burton's classic, Edward Scissorhands. However their relationship isn't the only highlight of Warm Bodies, R's unusual non verbal friendship with fellow zombie M (Rob Corddry), provides some of the film's most memorable moments.
A well made, inventive romance, with some slight social commentary, Warm Bodies is seemingly destined to become a modern cult classic. The self aware film will probably appeal to fans of the zom-coms Zombieland and Shaun of the Dead rather than The Twilight Saga and is notably driven by a wonderfully eclectic soundtrack, which includes tracks by Jimmy Cliff, John Waite, Guns 'N Roses, Bob Dylan, M83, Bon Iver and Feist.
I loved this film. Having been a fan of zombie/vampire films since WAY before Twilight, I saw it as soon as it was released and now it is firmly esconced in my personal DVD collection. Beautiful performances from Nicholas Hoult (post About A Boy) and Teresa Palmer and some funny moments in the interaction between R and M (Rob Corddry)