A quirky modern take on the Romeo and Juliet tale, “Warm Bodies” is about a zombie boy who falls for a human girl. What’s surprising about the film is the way it blends a pleasing mixture of comedy, romance and horror in a way that’s quite unexpected.
Writer/director Jonathan Levine never goes for the obvious choice, preferring to let the story play out organically. So if you’re expecting a goofy laughfest or a blood-spattering action film, you’re likely to be disappointed.
Nicholas Hoult plays a (formerly) teenage zombie living the un-life after a mysterious apocalypse has left most of the planet undead. He retains most of his mental capacities, though he has trouble remembering his human existence – he refers to himself as “R,” which is all he can remember of his real name. Munching on human brains eases the pain for awhile.
After encountering some humans, he kidnaps Julie (Teresa Palmer) and takes her back to his place, which turns out to be an old airline plane. They bond over music and stuff, and slowly R regains his ability to speak. She eventually comes to realize he sees her as more than an afternoon snack.
Needless to say, their romance doesn’t go over very well with their own people. Julie’s dad (John Malkovich) is the militaristic head of the survivor colony, and isn’t too keen on her having a “corpse” boyfriend.
R’s best zombie buddy, M (Rob Corddry), is willing to shrug it off. But the “bonies,” the nasty fleshless creatures who are at the top of the zombie hierarchy, see the coupling as a threat.
“Warm Bodies” plays around with the conventions of the zombie genre, and turns a premise that could’ve been silly or gross into something droll and even poignant. It’s one of the year’s freshest cinematic surprises.
The video comes nicely stocked with extras for both the DVD and Blu-ray versions. There is a gag real, deleted scenes and an audio commentary track by Levine, Hoult and Palmer. (These commentaries are always so much better with a combination of cast and crew.)
There are also nine making-of featurettes touching on various aspects of production, including the extensive makeup transformation of Hoult, plus the aptly-titled “Zombie Acting Tips with Rob Corddry.”