Three Imaginary Girls

Seattle's Indie-Pop Press – Music Reviews, Film Reviews, and Big Fun

{Warm Bodies opens in Seattle on Friday, 2/1, and is screening at both AMC Pacific Place and Thornton Place}

I know there are a few others out there, but this is the first “Zombie Romance” film I’ve seen, and it was pretty well done. But! If you’re a hardcore Zombie purist, you’re going to hate it because it seriously messes with the rules of the genre.

Instead of focusing on the outbreak, Warm Bodies deals with the aftermath of a Zombie apocalypse, where the remaining humans (led by a militant John Malkovich) wall themselves up inside the remains of a big city, and the zombies run around outside eating whatever brains they can find. But here’s the catch: the zombies can think pretty much the same way they did before they became the walking dead.

It gets harder for them to retain their humanity the longer they’ve been at it, but “R” (super-dreamy Nicholas Hoult – yes, even as a Zombie) seems to have a little more consciousness than the others, clinging to his human persona by collecting various chotskies, including a boss collection of ‘80s albums—I knew I was going to like this film as soon as they queued up John Waites’ “Missing You”.

Worlds collide when a group of teenage warriors sets out to gather supplies and runs into R and his group of flesh-eating buddies. During the slaughter, R eats the brain of Julie’s boyfriend, ingesting his victim’s memories along with the tasty, tasty grey matter. Already enamored with her appearance (I get it—Teresa Palmer is easy on the eyes), the memories trigger a strong devotion in R, and he fights off a few Zombies to protect her precious noggin, then hauls her off to his hideaway to keep her safe.

Did I lose you? So the Zombies can think, and in some cases, feel. This totally goes against everything we’ve been trained to believe, so I had some trouble wrapping my mind around it—especially when R begins to speak. (And more especially when Rob Corddry’s character starts speaking, because honestly that guy is funny, but he’s not as good an actor as Hoult. Not in this, anyway.) But the story of Julie and R is so damn sweet, and R’s narration is so damn hilarious that I am willing to let it slide.

Still, this romance is WAY more complicated than Romeo & Juliet (there’s a nice nod to that with a balcony scene): 1) He’s dead. 2) Her father will shoot him in the head on sight. 3) He ate her boyfriend.

There are some inconsistencies with the movement of the zombies, particularly the scary “Bonies”—Zombies that have been dead so long they’ve picked off their own flesh and don’t retain any thoughts except hunger, and like I said, you’ve gotta be willing to believe that the Zombies could, uh, “get better.” Which is quite a leap.

But ultimately it doesn’t matter if you can make that leap, as long you don’t dig too deep and learn to appreciate this film as a fun time. Levine nailed it by casting Hoult and Palmer in the main roles and adapting Isaac Marion’s unconventional novel into a romantic comedy with a killer soundtrack and an endearing resolution.

I definitely enjoyed it more than I ever thought I would, and deem it worthy of your time and money.