'Boy meets girl' then tries not to 'boy eat girl'.
April 08, 2013
'ZomRomComs'. That's what you get when you add zombies to romantic comedies. First came Shaun of the Dead, then Zombieland and now Warm Bodies, a delightful Romeo and Juliet meets Frankenstein tale, in that two star-crossed lovers must overcome deep-seeded family prejudices, and that Romeo is a monstrous zombie.
The undead are, of course, very much the flavour of the month right now. The Walking Dead is a consistent ratings winner on TV, Sam Raimi's Evil Dead is about to receive a huge Hollywood remake and video games like Dead Rising, Dead Island and Resident Evil continue to dominate the market. Even crazy drug addicts dropping 'bath salts' are opting for some face eating instead of the hoary old break-and-enter routine. For the first time, though, Warm Bodies presents us with a story told from the perspective of the zombie.
That zombie is 'R' (Nicholas Hoult), and his Juliet is 'Julie' (played by Australian actress Teresa Palmer). R is just your everyday teenage boy, grappling with your everyday teenage problems: a changing body, crippling social isolation and a tendency to grunt instead of speak. He's also a zombie, but instead of being scary that's mostly just a source of embarrassment. R's charming and self-deprecating narration throughout the film provides a constant source of laughter, particularly with self-aware lines like: "……God we walk slowly!" It's a sublime mix of dark comedy and tender romance, centred on a familiar yet infinitely more appealing relationship than Twilight's Bella and Edward.
Warm Bodies also features a killer soundtrack, including classics from Guns N' Roses, Bruce Springsteen, John Waite, Roy Orbison and Bob Dylan. More often than not, the tunes are set against flesh-tearingly gory scenes and the juxtaposition is terrific. The film also features a wonderful supporting cast of John Malkovich, Dave Franco and Rob Corddry, whose performance as a frustrated zombie businessman attracts most of the remaining laughs.
Ultimately, Warm Bodies is a clever, unexpected and undeniably entertaining film. The simple plot satisfies on most fronts and Hoult is perfectly cast as the awkward zombie lover, managing to imbue his soulless corpse with an extraordinary amount of heart and compassion. For an adaptation that openly acknowledges its Shakespearean underpinnings, this has somehow still emerged as one of the most original stories of the year.