Movie Review: Warm Bodies (2013, Dir. Jonathan Levine)

Warm Bodies

Warm Bodies is the most recent in a string of non-horrific horror-themed films aimed at a teen audience. It’s recently become pretty trendy to borrow elements from horror film and recycle them in movies aimed at youthful audiences, I guess as a result of the successful Twilight franchise.

The film follows R (the super cute Nicholas Hoult), a teen zombie boy with no memory of his life prior to his death. He repeats the same actions every day, unsure as to why, and has somehow managed to set up a home for himself inside an abandoned airplane, filled with the possessions that remain from his former life.  The world has been overrun by the undead, which, in this universe, are zombies and skeletons. Skeletons are zombies who have rotted completely to the bone, nicknamed Bonies by the zombies.  They are completely devoid of any humanity, fast moving, and will devour anything alive. While searching for food, R encounters a pack of humans looking for medicine. His instincts kick in, until he sees Julie (Teresa Palmer), a beautiful blonde girl. And R starts to experience emotion again, something that has been absent since his death.

Voiceover is used heavily to communicate R’s thoughts and feelings, and although it’s appropriate since R’s ability to express himself ends with a single word and a few gestures and grunts, it gets a bit lazy. There’s a joke here and there, and some cute thoughts that can’t be said aloud, but for the most part, R’s just narrating. For someone with no memories, he sure does have a lot to blab about. He gives way too much information about the Bonies, and it counteracts their scariness. But then again, the movie doesn’t seem to have any stock in being scary or exciting. It’s about the budding romance between the dead boy and the pretty girl.

And it’s cute. This zombified retelling of the Romeo and Juliet tale is a pretty good idea, it’s sweeter and more creative than Twilight or whatever the hell else. R is really just a bumbling teenage boy, his awkwardness manifesting itself in rigor mortis instead of nerves. The film itself is more of the caliber of Zombieland, which is a film I did not like at all. It’s less tongue-in-cheek than that, cuter, and less irreverent of the zombie genre. So the problem is not the story or the filmmaking, even the acting is good, the issue is that it’s mild and kind of boring.

The first half of the film is solely devoted to introducing the world and then introducing the relationship between R and Juliet. R must have been a hipster before he died considering his vinyl collection, and Julie makes some pretty unbelievable small talk about all his “cool records”. All of this could be done in 15 minutes, but it drags on for an hour, and an hour of two kids flirting and making cautious eyes at each other, even if one of them is a zombie, is really tedious.

Although I didn’t dislike the film, I just can’t really recommend it unless you are a preteen goth going out on your first date. In that case, ask your parents for a ride to the movies, and check out Warm Bodies!

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