During its theatrical trailer run, Warm Bodies raised the eyebrows of more than a few moviegoers, myself included. I was intrigued, not because I’m a sucker for tawdry teen romance. I told myself it was strange that I gravitated to the concept so much, because it didn’t seem like “my type” of movie. The reality is that I didn’t know what type of movie it was in the first place. So looms the question: is Warm Bodies just the next horror cliché-turned-love story? Is it merely pop culture fluff, or does it aim for a greater goal? Is it just a blip on the radar, or does it breathe new life into the zombie genre? Am I or am I not killing it with these undead puns?
I saw the film with no expectations, just staggering curiosity. If it sucked, at least I could laugh at it ironically. Luckily, though, my thirst for whatever it was I was thirsting for was quenched, because it turned out to be a rollicking good time. The key point that sets Warm Bodies apart from its genre-bending, young adult contemporaries (Twilight), is that it’s self-aware of its absurdity, and doesn’t run the risk of being a ham-fisted melodrama because it simply doesn’t take itself seriously. When Julie and love interest zombie R put on a record together, it’s funnier than it is romantic because there is humor in the situation of listening to music with a zombie… sort of like there ought to be humor in taking biology with a vampire. But, it manages to simultaneously build character in this blossoming relationship in a way that’s believable within the context of the movie. It makes you care when R wakes up to find Julie has left him. If that weren’t enough, the ‘bonies’ (zombies who have ripped off their flesh) are downright terrifying. The action isn’t sugar-coated, as you might expect. It’s as visceral as any zombie apocalypse movie except that this time you’re supposed to sympathize with them.
Warm Bodies simply has a lot to offer to its audience. It’s a fresh and quirky take on an often-repetitive concept. It’s just serious enough to maintain a cohesive story arc. It’s just funny enough to avoid being cliché. It’s moving and bloody and humorous and awkward and frightening all at once. Maybe it won’t be the first thing you’ll want to rush out and see on a Friday night, but someday, at some point, you’ll be sulking in your mountain of generic zombie flicks and you’ll be yearning for something new. Warm Bodies will be there waiting.
3.5 zombie brains out of 5.