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John’s Horror Corner: Warm Bodies (2013)

February 3, 2013

MY CALL:  This Romeo & Juliette approach to the zombedy breathes new life and a well-placed sense of hope into the genre.  While Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Zombieland (2009) succeeded in lighter-hearted, smiley approaches, neither conveyed the sense of romance-driven hope above desperation in their apocalyptic settings.  So see Warm Bodies!  You’ll leave feeling hopeful.  [A]  IF YOU LIKE THIS WATCH:  Other zombedies like Shaun of the Dead (2004) and Zombieland (2009).

As R (Nicholas Hoult; Clash of the Titans, X-Men: First Class, Jack the Giant Slayer), Nicholas Hoult’s narration adds an inflexive zombie-perspective and comedic charm regarding the idiosyncratic behavior of animated corpses and, given the unique opportunity, their romantic proclivities.  The narration feels natural and unscripted as if you were watching a home video of yourself and Mystery Science Theater-ing it.  This nearly impromptu style reveals that he goes by “R” because he can’t remember his name–only that it started with a zombie-grunting “rrrrrrhu?”

R “almost having a conversation” with M[arcus].

After introducing us to his daily lumbering grind, he rescues Julie (Teresa Palmer; I Am Number Four, The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, The Grudge 2) from his “friends” and keeps her safe.  As he struggles to remember how to enunciate we learn that he has also clearly forgotten how to talk to a girl…since he has no memories of his life at all!  The mix of his awkwardly nigh-mute zombiism, his self-deprecating narrations (which are humanly articulate) and his high schoolish nervousness present an excellent platform to develop these characters and their relationship.

“Try to look dead.” 78

“Too much.”

Unlike Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland, the gore was quite minimal.  There were no slow throat-tearing bites, flesh-rending or disembowelments by super strong zombie hands, which makes this ZomCom more watchable by those who don’t care for shocking displays of gore of suffering.  This was a tasteful choice and, even as a gorehound, in this case I very much approve.

77

One of these things is not like the other.

Huh?  No.  This is nothing like Fulci’s Zombie.

79

This is one of the “bonies.”  They’re a little closer.

I was really pleased with the music.  Songs like Bruce Springsteen’s “Hungry Heart” and Jimmy Cliff’s “Sitting in Limbo” mesh tongue in cheek irony with generally spectacular scoring decisions.  Not to mention playing “Pretty Woman” when R is receiving a “human” makeover, a great scene in which the stellar supporting character Nora (Analeigh Tipton; Crazy Stupid Love, The Green Hornet) turns Hoult from zombie to hottie.

The Shakespearian elements were not limited to the main characters’ names:  R[omeo, perhaps] and Julie[tte].  Their relationship seems little less than “star-crossed” from the start, she learns not to fear or hate R as he becomes “more human,” her ex-cause-he’s-dead boyfriend Perry is essentially Paris, Julie’s father (John Malkovich; Red, Jonah Hex) plays the lord of House Capulet role and he hates zombies as if they were Montagues, Nora plays Shakespeare’s helpful “nurse” of House Capulet, and Marcus (Rob Corddry; Pain and Gain, Hit Tub Time Machine) does a heartfelt and transformative job filling the shoes of Mercutio.  There’s even a balcony scene, which was the only unsubtle reference–but didn’t feel forced.

I generally enjoyed every aspect of this movie.  I have few small complaints and I’d rather not draw any attention to them.  This film is too good to chance scaring you off over minor quibbles.

So go see this.  You’ll leave feeling satisfied and hopeful.

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