A Passion For Horror
Warm Bodies (2013)
Directed by Jonathan Levine
Warm Bodies might best be described as a romantic comedy with zombies. It's a case of zombie meets girl, they fall in love, and then the zombie throws a spanner in the works by admitting he ate her former boyfriend.
The movie is based on the bestselling book by Isaac Marion, and although the movie starts off a little slow, with the central character—a zombie named R—bemoaning the monotonies of the zombie lifestyle, it gradually picks up pace and becomes quite an entertaining story.
Nicholas Hoult plays R—who remembers nothing of his former life other than the first letter of his name. R spends most of his time at a disused airport that seems to be a favoured trudging ground for zombies. He has set up home in a plane, managed to make it quite comfortable, and appears to spend a lot of time listening to records. The source of the plane's electricity supply is never explained, and raises a few questions, but apart from that there is not too much to nitpick about.
Teresa Palmer plays Julie. Like the rest of the remaining human population, she lives in settlement situated behind a high protective wall that successfully keeps the zombies out. Julie and her boyfriend are part of a small team that leave the settlement to search for much-needed medical supplies. Unfortunately for them, R and a team of zombies are also in town, looking for supplies of a more meaty nature. The two teams run into each other in a laboratory and when R spots Julie, through the flying bullets, he feels an instant attraction, but Julie is too busy pumping shotgun to notice him. Her boyfriend notices him though, and sends some flying lead his way, but R is too fast for him and is soon busy munching on the young man's brains. While R is getting his teeth into some grey matter the viewer learns that zombies consider human brains a great delicacy because they allow them to experience events from their victim's life.
By the time he has finished snacking, R has amassed a considerable knowledge about Julie and is more interested in her than ever, so he rescues her from his buddies by passing her off as a zombie, and takes her home with him. Needless to say the two get to know each other a lot better, and Julie soon realizes there is more to her zombie companion than meets the eye. Meanwhile, R's close proximity to Julie has caused some changes in him. It all starts when his heart begins to beat again, and the changes appear to be contagious because the other zombies see the difference in him, begin to miss the lives they used to have, and start to change as well. The only ones who do not change are the bonies. What are bonies? Extra ugly-looking zombies that have torn the last of the skin from their decaying bodies and shed every last ounce of humanity. There is no going back for the bonies, but they are aware that R and Julie are responsible for the changes going on around them, and are soon hunting the mismatched couple. R and Julie's unorthodox love also has another problem to overcome, in the form of Julies father, who has already lost so many of his friends and loved ones to zombies that he is unlikely to accept the new man in her life.
At the beginning of this review I called Warm Bodies a romantic comedy with zombies, but failed to mention that it is also a reworking of Romeo and Juliet. In all honesty, I was not aware of this fact until over an hour into the movie, when there is a balcony scene. R has managed to enter the human settlement and is waiting below Julie's balcony when she comes out from some air. As soon as he began calling her name, the penny dropped and I saw a few other common factors between the two stories, such as the similarities between the names and, of course, and the fact that they each belong to different warring factions. Romeo and Juliet belonged to feuding families; R and Julie belong to groups that are not only at loggerheads, but at opposing ends of the food chain. Very clever! And I had to smile when I realized how obvious it all is once the initial connection has been made. I'm guessing there may be other similarities, but I'm not a lover of Shakespeare, so my knowledge of the story is severely limited.
Warm Bodies is a very entertaining movie that should appeal to many viewers, but it is not a particularly dark story. The bonies can be pretty scary at times, especially towards the end of the movie, when they climb on top of a domed glass roof, smash their way through, and go on the attack, but overall the horror elements are few and far between. Viewers who are looking for a similar movie to Night of the Living Dead will probably find Warm Bodies disappointing, but the movie should prove a big hit with anyone who loved Shaun of the Dead or who is a sucker for a good paranormal romance.
4 out of 5.