Review: Warm Bodies

Zombie rom-com starring Nicholas Hoult (X-Men: First Class) as a bummed-out living dead who falls for the living girlfriend of one of his victims. Also stars John Malkovich, Rob Corddry and Dave Franco. From the director of 50/50, based on the debut novel by Isaac Marion. Read more.

Director Jonathan Levine proved adept at blending various tones with previous films 50/50 and The Wackness, both of which struck a fine balance between drama and comedy and marked him as the right fellow to helm “rom-com-zom” Warm Bodies. As that description suggests, Warm Bodies could have been a complicated mess of a film in the wrong hands, but Levine brings this tale to life without it becoming overwhelmingly jarring.

Levine’s job is made substantially easier by lead Nicolas Hoult who takes on the risky juggle of amusing self-aware narration and slackjawed zombie shuffle and succeeds, even if this is one of the many aspects of the film likely to rub hardcore horror fans up the wrong way. Warm Bodies isn’t one for folks who know the zombie rulebook (or pamphlet, really) inside-out, and just as likely to prove off-putting to some is the pic’s power-of-love storyline. This requires such a major suspension of disbelief that to some it’ll seem unbearably hokey, whereas if you’re in the mood for its schmaltzy conceit as I was, then you’re on track for an enjoyable, if slight, experience.

Thankfully not making too much of its star-crossed sort-of-lovers being called “R” and “Julie” besides the odd gag, Warm Bodies doesn’t go in the Shakespearian direction I despaired it was going to for a minute. Between this and the film’s use of the well-worn zombie phenomenon, the film taps into various pop culture elements rather than feeling like it is jumping on any particular bandwagon. But with more romantic mushiness than the brain-chomping kind, it ain’t for everyone.