You might think, based on the publicity material, that Warm Bodies is nothing more than a pisstake on the popular Twilight phenomenon, akin to something like Breaking Wind or Vampires Suck, but you’d be terribly, terribly wrong.
Warm Bodies tells the traditional star-crossed lovers story with which we’re so familiar, except that in this case, one of the lovers is a brain eating zombie. It’s an absurd premise, but one that is handled so deftly that you’ll find yourself amazed just how emotionally involving this film gets.
The story begins post-zombie apocalypse, where Julie (Theresa Palmer) and a ragtag bunch of young people are scouring the ruined city wasteland for supplies. When her group is attacked by zombies, instead of meeting her doom at the teeth of the undead, one of them takes her under his wing. This zombie, R (Nicholas Hoult), fell in love with Julie the moment he set eyes on her, and it’s from here that this most unlikely of pairings begin their journey.
Warm Bodies is one of those rare films where the voice-over adds to the experience. In fact, it’s integral to the movie. R narrates this tale, and the voice inside his head sounds like your usual American young adult. His speaking voice, however, is reduced to a series of grunts and moans, with the occasional reference to eating human flesh thrown in. In this manner, it references what I can only assume is the experience of anyone in the real world with a communication disability, whereby the person so afflicted can’t verbalise their complex thoughts.
Hoult is absolutely brilliant as R. I can’t begin to imagine how difficult the performance must have been, trying to strike a balance between silly comedy and romantic tragedy. The same goes for the film as a whole: it manages to walk that fine line, such that you really want these two to get together despite the wackiness of the premise.
Since her stunning performance in Australia’s 2:47, Theresa Palmer has been in some expensive movies that didn’t fare too well in the box office. The Sorcerer’s Apprentice wasn’t terrible but wasn’t that great either, and whilst her role in I Am Number Four was easily the best part of that film, it also did middling business. Here, she finally has another script worthy of her skills. Without wanting to give anything away, Warm Bodies sets itself some difficult narrative tasks but manages to solve these problems with aplomb (even if it isn’t particularly concerned with things like real world physics).
The film clearly didn’t have buckets of money to throw around, and the visual effects get the job done without ever becoming overly complex, but the crowning achievement of the film is that it manages to be both hilarious and heart-warming. The original publishing deal accepted by Isaac Marion and the speed with which the book was optioned may have been as a direct result of the Twilight Saga‘s success, but this film is better than all five of those films put together.Rating: