Breaking Out Of The Horror Genre, ‘Warm Bodies’ Entertains
Published: Sunday, February 3, 2013
Updated: Sunday, February 3, 2013 18:02
Some may think they’ve seen every zombie story, and that the subject matter has been exhaustively drained and the horse beat to a pulp. Warm Bodies, directed by Jonathan Levine, brilliantly proves that a fresh angle can be taken on almost any story, turning it into something that audiences have not seen before. It is arguable that zombie movies have become so prominent that they now break away from the horror film genre and stand on their own, each time feeding society’s obsession with the living dead in an apocalyptic and violent manner. Warm Bodies turns this genre on its head, establishing itself as a romantic comedy that takes place in the setting of a horror film. This out-of-place feel only adds to the ultramodern tone of the movie, that in itself is a metaphor for the inarticulate awkwardness that is adolescent love.
Warm Bodies is based on a novel by Isaac Marion, and is told entirely through the point of view of the zombie himself. The film follows this same premise, and the story is narrated by R (Nicholas Hoult), a young zombie who lives in a “society” of the undead stationed in an old airport. His home is an abandoned 747 aircraft. He doesn’t remember anything about who he was before the plague hit, he just spends his existence loitering around the airport and going on the occasional hunt. R and his fellow zombies decide to go on a mission to find food (human brains are their favorite, as they have access to the victim’s pool of memories by feasting on their cerebral matter) at the exact same time as a group of young adults exit the protected human settlement to procure medical supplies. This unfortunate coincidence results in a tragic meeting of the two groups, and as the shooting and brain eating ensues, R crosses paths with Julie (Teresa Palmer), and then proceeds to kill her boyfriend and eat his brain, gaining access to all his memories—and his feelings for Julie as well. R decides to protect her and take her back to the airport in which he lives.
Although the fact that he keeps her hostage in his abandoned 747 is a little concerning, they forge a good dynamic, and his lovesickness develops. Julie becomes curious as to why this zombie guy is so different from the others, and why the very few words he manages to utter to her are so kind and protective. R begins to change, his humanity keeps growing, and they realize that they are starting a movement that affects all the undead and reverses the apocalypse.
What makes this film so worthwhile is its unexpectedness, and the fact that the story is told from the point of view of the zombie for once. The character of R, even though we never find out much about his background, is extremely relatable. Through his very clever narration and commentary, we get a sense of who R is, and his comments are probably the most commendable aspect of the movie. For example, when R is trying to make a good impression on Julie as she’s being kept hostage, he thinks to himself: “don’t be creepy, don’t be creepy” or “ugh, you’re being weird again!” as he stares at her while she eats. His internal struggle as he’s around this special girl is very reflective of how teenage love really is—and his comments are truly hilarious. They are even lacking in some parts, making the audience wish to hear more from him in certain situations.
Director Jonathan Levine also wrote the adapted screenplay for Warm Bodies. His body of work is not extensive but very estimable, with 50/50 as one of the leading titles. The general idea of Warm Bodies is comparable to 50/50, as Levine manages to take a very serious and worrisome situation and make it funny and lighthearted.
While probably not the most groundbreaking film of the century, Warm Bodies is recommended to anyone who wants to have two hours of engaging entertainment, and witness this very sweet (and maybe a little twisted) love story. One of R’s best comments shows why this zombie movie is not like any other. As he denotes a type of zombie that is so mindless that it will eat anything that moves, he says: “Well, I do too. But hey, at least I’m conflicted.”