Warm Bodies (2013)
Dir: Jonathan Levine
A zombie by any other name would smell as dead!
I’ve been looking forward to reviewing this if for no other reason than just to be able to type the phrase, a ‘zom-rom-com’, as that’s what this film is, a zombie romantic comedy that makes many references to the Shakespeare play ‘Romeo & Juliet’.
R (ostensibly Romeo, played by Nicholas Hoult) is dead, but so are many other people, and they’re all wandering around in varying levels of metamorphosis into zombie-dom. However, unlike zombies in many other films and the farther-gone undead here named ‘bonies’, R is fully aware of this and not pleased about it. There are still some humans left, walled up in a secured area, led by a determined John Malkovich, who sends out small groups into zombie infected areas in search of needed supplies such as pharmaceuticals. On one of these missions his daughter Julie (Teresa Palmer) and her boyfriend (Dave Franco) encounter hungry zombies including R. When R eats her boyfriend’s brains however he sees how lovely Julie is, and so decides to protect her, taking her home, and beginning an unlikely and forbidden romance that begins to change him for the better, and spread with wider-reaching effects.
Brilliantly we are introduced to him, and continue with him for much of the rest of the film, through his internalized thoughts that are fully comprehensible and reasoning. So often, the Zombies that are shown in films are just portrayed as mindless human-eaters, and yet here there’s a nice twist on the whole idea, not just showing things from his viewpoint, but giving an insight into his complex and conflicted thoughts. I also love the idea that the romantic leads’ developing love spreads like a virus, just as the zombie infection adversely did previously, it’s again a clever twist on the common themes of zombie films.
Then there’s the Shakespeare aspect. For someone looking for the references there are lots, I watched this 24 hours after watching the Reduced Shakespeare Company rattle through Romeo & Juliet in 12 minutes, and spotted lots! Watching it without looking for those links would be enjoyable too, but the nods to that most famous of love stories just adds a little something extra that made the film even more enjoyable.