This movie didn’t really catch my eye until my friend started talking about how much she was looking forward to seeing it. I found myself kind of intrigued by the storyline she described, and then once I really watched the trailer, I knew I was in. Counting down silently in my head to the film’s release date, I made a plan to go see it opening weekend on one of my days off. I thought, if nothing else, it would be something to make me feel better after a shot night, and a wicked excuse to eat popcorn for breakfast.
Warm Bodies follows the story of R (Nicholas Hoult), a handsome young zombie who can’t remember much of his former life (the one where he was still alive), but thinks his name may have started with an ‘R’, so we go with that. Now he spends his time shuffling around an airport with hoardes of other zombies, and occasionally eating anything with a pulse. R has set up a makeshift home for himself in a leftover airplane husk on the airport’s tarmac, and when not shuffling or eating, we find he enjoys listening to music on vinyl and finding relics from a time before the infection to add to his growing collection.
One day, R sets out with his best friend, M (Rob Corddry) and a small hoarde of fellow infecteds to see if they can find someone to eat. They tend to travel in packs, and wish to steer clear of the “Bonies” – a class of infected that no longer even resemble anything human; just blackened bones and eye-less sockets tearing through whatever life they can find left on the planet. R explains that, when an infected eats from the brain of the living, he acquires that person’s memories, and it lets them feel almost alive again for a brief time. But the Bonies are beyond any such capacity now. They just kill and eat without emotion, because their hunger is all that they are; all that defines them and drives them. So, the non-Bony infected stick together. They may be dead, but at least they still have each other.
R and company stumble across a group of humans who are out from under the security and safety of their walled city in search of medicines and other supplies that they can bring back with them. Their attack on the humans is swift, but in the chaos, R spots Julie (Teresa Palmer), and finds he can not take his eyes off of her. It almost gets him killed – again – so he takes down his attacker and begins to chow down on the guy’s brain, only to find out that he’s just killed Perry (Dave Franco), Julie’s boyfriend.
R springs into action (as much action as a zombie can muster, anyway) and manages to spirit the terrified Julie away from the other infected before they realize that she’s not one of them. He takes her to his airport home, and does his best to communicate his desire to keep her safe. He also steps away to eat more of her boyfriend’s brains occasionally, as a way of getting to know her better, but at least his heart is in the right place.
His heart, which thrummed out a beat again when he laid eyes on Julie for the first time.
Before long, the pair find themselves caught on the outside of everything, with only each other to count on. R no longer quite fits in with his fellow infected, and Julie has trouble going back hime to her military father (with a wonderfully reserved performance from the legendary John Malkovich) when she knows now that the zombies they have been fighting are not entirely lost, as they had at first believed. Both R and Julie believe that there is still hope in what had seemed to everyone a hopeless world.
Based on the novel by Isaac Marion (which I now simply must read), Warm Bodies is a zombie comedy, a love story, and a commentary on the tragedy of the human condition. It’s fun, sweet and charming, and Hoult and Palmer are absolutely amazing to watch. It shows us that not all humans are good guys, not all zombies are mindless, and the heart is indeed the most powerful organ of all – especially when it can find a connection with another heart.
As I shuffled home from the theatre that afternoon, my head bent to my cell phone while I checked whatever messages had come through while I’d been inside in the dark, I wondered to myself – are we really all that different? Instead of spending so much time trying to define Us and conquer Them, maybe we should pay a little more attention to the world around us RIGHT NOW, and even try living a little bit. If R can do so much with a dead heart that occasionally beats again, imagine what we can do with hearts that beat constantly, every day?
Warm Bodies is now playing in theatres everywhere! Get your un-dead self out there! And in the meantime, check out more on the film at the following sites: