These star-crossed lovers are barely lukewarm
If you were expecting a stereotypical zombie film, you won’t find it in Warm Bodies. It is, unfortunately, a stereotypical romantic comedy. The film attempts to be a modern Romeo and Juliet, and merely substitutes a zombie for Romeo.
Warm Bodies starts off with a lengthy, slightly amusing voiceover by R (Hoult), a zombie with a thread of humanity left in him. While attacking humans for food, he falls in love with Julie (Palmer) and decides to take her with him back to the zombie-filled airport (cue sappy love-building montages set to hip music here). Julie eventually returns to the human area of the city, which is walled off from attacks. Nevertheless, their romance has inspired something in the zombies to change and move back towards humanity.
Ironically, for a genre that is usually terrifying, the film isn’t actually that scary. Zombie films are generally frightening for two reasons: the first is that anyone can become a zombie – anyone. A loved one could turn on you and kill you with the viciousness of a ravenous animal at any minute. Those who were once so human are now absolutely crazy.
The other reason is that zombie-dom is apparently irreversible, and the whole world inevitably descends into madness and dystopia. The fear is somehow erased by giving the zombies a way to become human again. And creating one-dimensional skeletal creatures to displace that fear does not work within Warm Bodies.
As far as romantic comedy, the film attempts humour, but only succeeds at monotony. The characters are rather bland – everyone is charming, but without any real edges. The production design is solid enough, as is expected from a Hollywood film.
Quite frankly, the premise of the film is just ridiculous. Characters are often forced to kill their family or friends in zombie films because they’ve turned. If falling in love is necessary to inspire zombies to become human again, why is Levine’s film the first instance in which it happens?
That being said, the appeal is obvious: who wouldn’t want to inspire the one they love to become a better person?
Dir: Jonathan Levine; US romcom/horror, 2013, 98 mins; Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Analeigh Tipton, Dave Franco, John Malkovich
Premieres February 7