Zombies Find Heart in ‘Warm Bodies’

The undead are all the rage these days. From “Shaun of the Dead” and “Zombieland” to “The Walking Dead,” zombies are slowly replacing vamps and wolves as the monster to look out for. It was only a matter of time before romance worked its way into the zombie genre as well. But why would a woman ever fall for a corpse? “Warm Bodies” aims to address this, and its answer may surprise you. 

Nicholas Hoult (“X-Men: First Class”) stars as R, a zombie who groans, walks and eats like the undead but still thinks like a human. When R meets human survivor Julie (Teresa Palmer) after devouring her boyfriend (Dave Franco), he falls for her and decides to protect her. As the two bond, R rediscovers his humanity, changing the fates of both the living and the dead.

As cringe-worthy as it sounds, this film has a surprising amount of life for a story about a dead person. R may be a zombie, but through facial expressions, body language and hilarious internal voice overs, he turns into a fully realized person. His chemistry with Palmer is great, and it really sells this downright creepy concept. But while the romance is convincing, Palmer’s Julie is too bland to make it truly shine. Instead, R’s friendship with Rob Corddry’s fellow zombie M is the better relationship.

It’s not the love story that makes this film impressive so much as making the zombies actual people. Zombie purists may groan, but the film benefits from the fresh take, using the undead state as a metaphor for isolation and teenage awkwardness. “Warm Bodies” may not be the best supernatural romance, but among the films about rotting corpses, this one remembered to have brains and heart.