Anyone who knows me knows that I love the current trend of Young Adult fantasy/horror/supernatural/dystopian stories that have flooded pop culture, first invading bookstores, and now movie theaters. I would say that if I was a teen, I’d eat it all up. But the truth is, I’m NOT a teen, and I still love it. I hadn’t read Isaac Marion’s YA novel Warm Bodies before seeing this film, but judging from the movie, it has all the hallmarks of the current YA trend: a strong, no-nonsense teenage girl, a misfit of a boy that proves his worth to her, and a smarter-than-it’s-own good self-aware narration. But in this case, the boy just happens to be a zombie.
R (Nicolas Hoult) is, well, dead. He is so dead, he can’t remember his own name (Hmmm… starts with an R…). He, like so many others, was a victim of the zombie plague, and, like other zombies, he just shuffles around aimlessly at the local airport, where many of them have gathered for some reason. He reflects on his loneliness. He reflects on the tedium of being a zombie. And he sometimes meets and hangs out with his “best friend” (Rob Rodory) to exchange some grunts and moans.
R’s life (or death?) changes when he and some of his zombie pals stumble across some humans on a scouting mission outside of their protected (and walled) area of the city. R takes a shine to a girl named Julie (Teresa Palmer) after, well, eating her boyfriend (as zombies are wont to do). There’s something about Julie… he can’t quite put his finger on it. Because he tends to eat brains more than use his own, he is slow to realize that his affection for her may be thawing his cold, dead heart.
Because I don’t sit and analyze movies to death, I somehow missed that Warm Bodies was actually a zombie interpretation of Romeo & Juliet (“Well, of course it is!” I said, slapping my forehead, when I was told this after the fact). Two kids from the opposite sides of the tracks (or opposite sides of the plague wall) fall in love against all odds. The fact that the boy conceivably may chomp on the girl and eat her adds the twist.
As this is a bonafide zombie movie, there are a few scary action scenes with various types of undead, but overall, the movie is actually loads of fun. Both leads are appealing, and Hoult does the most with his vacant eyes, shrug, and moans, as he struggles to communicate with Julie. Considering the zombie rom-com genre is rather limited, it may not be saying much that I haven’t laughed this hard at a zombie movie since Shawn of the Dead… but it’s true! Warm Bodies is surprisingly sweet and charming. It’s a movie about the undead with a warm, beating heart.