The zombie genre is probably the most formulaic in the film industry. This is closely followed by the rom-com genre, where studio outputs rinse and repeat the same storyline monthly. Young filmmaker Jonathan Levine loves to do new things, whilst the quality of his work isn’t always high, he has always managed to do something original with broken genres. Now he takes two broken genres, mixes them together and gives us a real rom-zom-com (sorry Shaun of the Dead, you lack the rom).
Warm Bodies follows R, a zombie. R is our narrator; he takes us through the day to day struggles of being a zombie. He walks around an airport, grunts with his best friend M and plays records in his airplane that he has made home. Levine takes liberties with the mythology, making these zombies just a little bit smarter and a little more human. And he nails it, as R starts to fall in love with Julie the film becomes incredibly human.
The film works largely due to the talented cast, the wrong cast and this could have been a disaster. Nicholas Hoult is a fabulous young actor; even from his early days in About A Boy he has been able to charm the pants off any movie goer. Aussie Teresa Palmer is no slacker herself, like Hoult she is also oozing with natural charm that she has filled all her roles with. These two actors have amazing chemistry and together they work perfectly. You have no issue buying their attraction for each, despite their vastly different situations.
Like all zoms and rom-coms, peril is present. This time coming from the surviving humans and too-far-gone zombies called Boneys. This is the only area where Warm Bodies falls down; as the final confrontation between Boneys and humans nears closer the film drifts away from the romance. It does up the comedy and the action in the final 30 minutes, but the romance was working so well you wish they’d go back to it.
This final lapse is easily forgivable though due to the originality Levine pumps through the film. His script is the definition of fresh, the changes he makes to the zombie mythology is welcome because it presents us with the most relatable zombie film ever. It is a tired horror sub-genre that hasn’t had any fresh air since Romero made Night of the Living Dead. To then mix this with the equally tired rom-com genre was a massive risk, but to pull it off shows Levine has immense skill as a filmmaker/screenwriter.
The mish-mash of genres will prove too much for a lot of people, but if you can buy into the premise and the characters than there is a very lovable film here.
4.0 out of 5.0