One of the most scrutinized genres of film is the zombie flick. From endless arguments based on whether an undead cannibalistic corpse should have the ability to run, or just wander around slowly with their arms outstretched toward their victims, many horror nerds have spent years of their lives debating the attributes of these fictional monsters. Well folks, if you thought Zack Snyder’s Dawn of the Dead remake was hotly contested amongst creature-feature fans, you haven’t seen nothing like the fits people are about to throw over Warm Bodies!
Warm Bodies is the tale of R (Nicholas Hoult), a zombie of unknown age who spends his days pacing around an airport. Serving as our narrator, he tells the audience that he has no recollection of how everyone became a zombie, or why some have made homes in areas that seemingly brought them comfort at one time.
While on a hunt with a group of zombies, including his best friend M (Rob Cordrry), R stumbles upon a group of living survivors from a local fortified settlement. After a brief skirmish, the zombies completely massacre the humans, leaving only Julie (Teresa Palmer) alive. Falling in love at first sight, R saves Julie from the horde of flesh-eaters. They quickly develop a friendship, and R attempts to help Julie return to her home and father (John Malkovich).
I took notice of director Jonathan Levine last year upon the release of 50/50; I felt some scenes in that dramedy were among the most inventive of all 2011. A young man with a checkered filmography (The Wackness underwhelms, while All the Boys Love Mandy Lane never received a proper release), I put Levine on my mental list of directors to keep an eye on in the future. Well, this is his first feature since 50/50 and this is a huge misfire. Seemingly a simple paycheck job, there is no personal touch to be found from the auteur, with the actors left on their own to make the romance work.
Hoult and Palmer are fine, if mediocre, in the starring roles of the mismatched couple. Hoult is all grown up since starring in About a Boy in the titular role of Boy, but shows little in the way of the charisma most would assume to be necessary for a rotting corpse to attract a beautiful young lady. Palmer does okay as Julie, but it seems as if someone on the filmmaking side of the production just threw a copy of Twilight at her and said, “Be this.” While certainly better than Kristen Stewart in that franchise, Palmer is called to do little more than bite her lip from time to time and act demur around the dead folks.
While not an embarrassment for those involved, Warm Bodies is a trifle that will soon be forgotten by the public and will work its way down the resumes of those responsible. If you are a zombie completist knock yourself out; all others steer clear and catch one of those Best Picture nominees you’ve been putting off.