Stop me if you’ve heard this one before. An undead boy falls tragically in love with a human girl, no one understands what they see in each other, blah blah blah. I’m not talking about a Twilight reboot (thank all that is holy and good). I’m talking about the best zombie flick I’ve seen in a long time: Warm Bodies.
When I first heard about a love story with zombies, I was a little grumpy. Mostly just because I’d recently finished writing what I thought would be the first ZomRomCom. That and I was-and still am for the most part-completely over the supernatural romance thing. It’s always the same story, just with different names and different creatures. Then I read the Wikipedia page for the novel the film’s based on. That got me even more riled up. I refused to see it. Everyone I knew wanted to boycott it because we thought it was just going to be Twilight with zombies.
Oh good lord, were we wrong.
The first trailer came out in November. From that moment on, I swore to never judge a film based on its Wikipedia page again. Because this…this was way better than I could have expected. It’s funny, it’s sweet, it’s everything that makes a great film.
We meet R (Nicholas Hoult) as he goes about his normal, daily routine: wandering around the abandoned airport with other zombies. He ponders the meaning of his life. This is how we know it’s not your typical zombie flick. He thinks. It’s his story, and that’s what makes it so fascinating. We see the post-apocalyptic world from his perspective for the vast majority of the film. And he’s just like us: he doesn’t want to screw up, he’s aimless, he’s the typical twentysomething who has no clue what he’s doing.
R and his zombie buddies get hungry. And eating people is the only thing that prevents them from turning into Bonies, which are seriously a bigger problem than zombies. Think of the undead soldier dudes from The Mummy, but scarier. The Bonies eat other zombies, and it’s just overall creepy. So they go out on a search, where R comments on how damn slow they move (more proof of this being my new favorite zombie film).
This is when we meet Julie (Teresa Palmer), one of the last humans left. Julie, Nora (Analeigh Tipton), her best friend, and Perry (Dave Franco), her boyfriend, are set to go outside the city walls to look for supplies. Julie’s father, Grigio (John Malkovich), is pretty much the dictator in this new mini-world. (There’s a theme here, guys. Bear with me.) So Julie, Nora, and Perry go on a raid for medical supplies when R and his gang show up. And they’re hungry. This is the point where it becomes a real, legit zombie story. R explains why zombies like eating brains, something that every other story has skipped over. Zombies eat brains in order to dream. Well, kind of. They absorb the memories of the person they’re eating. And that’s the closest zombies can get to dreaming.
The middle part of the story we get from the trailer. R keeps Julie safe by marking her with his blood. Well, ooze. Zombies can’t bleed either (there’s a point to that in the film). He keeps her safe from the other zombies. She eventually runs away, but not without R. He stays with her, making sure no zombies or Bonies try to eat her. I could spoil the ending for you. I could spoil the entire story. But that would take all of the fun out of it for you.
The fact that the film makes fun of the genres it falls into is what makes it so great. It’s not a typical gooey love story. It’s not slapstick comedy. It’s not Dawn of the Dead. And that’s perfectly okay. Because the fact that it’s a funky hybrid is what makes it such a great movie. My only complaint? R had enough fine motor skills and intelligence to open the door to an airplane and operate a record player, but not enough to speak.
Quirky but still loads of fun, I give Warm Bodies nine out of ten brains.