Director: Jonathan Levine Writer: Jonathan Levine Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, John Malkovich Running Time: 98 Minutes Year: 2013
Let’s get this little tidbit out of the way. The novel on which Warm Bodies is based, by Seattle author Isaac Marion is very very good. By that I mean, it opens the zombie genre up, tinkers around with the starter motor and then goes full throttle. It’s one of the better offerings to horror’s latest love affair.
Jonathan Levine’s adaptation succeeds in bringing to life (guffaw!) the tale of zombie-with-a-heart R (Nicholas Hoult) and his emerging quest to rescue fair maiden, Julie (Teresa Palmer), with a refreshing eye. Levine opts to cut out chunks of the narrative which to be honest, work in written form, but would have flailed about like a beached whale desperate for a lungful of saltwater. Transforming inner monologues into visual sequences is a tricky endeavour, which, is handled by Hoult’s dry-as-a-bone voiceover. This is where a unique narrative device actually contributes to the end product instead of latching on as a lazy way to tell a story. However, there’s bound to be fans of Marion’s original material who have a bone to pick with the 98-minute feature. Hey, it’s an adaptation, you can’t squeeze it all in there. What it does include is the sweetest, funniest moments. It’s no way near as dark or cynical as it could have been, which is likely why it was such a hit at the box office.
Marion’s mythology is amped up with a race of sub-zombies called Boneys, who’ll give your kid brother nightmares with their lack of eyes and penchant for tearing off their own flesh. You’ve got to hand it to them, there’s at least two noticeable contributions to the z-genre here. Our antihero, R, while out gathering food (see: murdering humans) eats the brains of a young lad who happens to be the boyfriend of Julie. The very act of eating said grey matter allows R to experience his memories. It’s a very nice touch segued into via starkly lit flashbacks into which R’s sickly pallor is made to feel a stranger.
It’s not all hearts and entrails here as there’s not one but TWO baddies to overcome. John Malkovich’s General Grigio is fleshed out enough considering he has about ten minutes of screen time.
Hoult nails the role of a zombie in love, stuttering his way through a second adolescence as he figures out the trickiness of wooing a girl while you’re dead. Watching as he converses with his best mate, played brilliantly by Rob Corddry, the restraint and spot-on delivery of their stilted dialogue could go down as one of the first zombie bromances. Palmer kicks butt via the way of Ripley, managing to let slip a few vulnerabilities and comedic moments to infer that she is indeed human.
Warm Bodies is a rare beast in a pool teeming with average undead filler. If you like your zombie affairs with laughs, romance, blood and a few surprising developments, then there’s no where else to turn really.[vsw id=”3rxPOPMxDwA” source=”youtube” width=”425″ height=”344″ autoplay=”no”]