Dir: Jonathan Levine, 2013
R is a zombie who, along with his undead cohorts, is aimlessly wandering through a post-apocalyptic wasteland. While the other zombies are searching for human flesh to feast on, R is searching for a meaning in his “life” – and also flesh to eat. However when he consumes the brains of Perry, R gains Perry’s memories along with his affection for his girlfriend Julie. As R’s love for Julie grows, it sets off a reaction that may just promise a cure for zombies everywhere.
Warm Bodies is what you’d get if you took Twilight, made it self-aware and sacrificed overwhelming teen angst for a dash of much-needed humour. Yet, as much distaste I have for Twilight, Warm Bodies isn’t any better. Twilight establishes a firm set of rules when approaching its lore. Warm Bodies is tremendously muddled over that of zombies. At one moment, R is a lapsing adolescent trapped inside a dead shell and the next he’s forming sentences and controlling his cravings for flesh. The Bonies, who serve as a lacklustre stimulus for the third act, aren’t the least bit threatening unless to the film’s entertaining prospects and exist only to beef up the running time rather than to encourage the film’s message.
For a film that stresses the importance of beating heart, Warm Bodies doesn’t seem to have one. Granted, Levine emphasises the budding relationship between Hoult and Palmer by giving them screen time streets ahead of the shockingly-squandered cast, but it’s a decision that comes at too costly a price. Of course it’s tough to entertain audiences when your lead character rarely speaks but with support in the form of John Malkovich and Rob Corddry at your disposal, there’s simply no excuse for Warm Bodies to be this dull. Levine knows where to put the camera (as backed up by 50-50) but his screenwriting skills are sub-par. His previous writing effort, indie comedy The Wackness, failed to hit the mark as a coming-of-age teen drama and Warm Bodies’ gags are not only overly-casual but are all condensed into the film’s trailer.
Time might heal all wounds and laughter may be the best medicine but Levine challenges anything but love to reverse that zombie apocalypse many of us secretly yearn for. Warm Bodies holds an interesting premise that loses traction as it progresses, evoking that feeling of a fantastic short which was wrought in the name of commerce.
★ ★ ☆ ☆ ☆