For a fairly light-hearted zombie romantic comedy (zomromcom), Warm Bodies skirts the line of being almost too dark and disturbing. I only bring this up because, as mentioned before, I like when movies take risks. This movie takes a huge risk and never breaks its stride. It’s almost like it doesn’t think it’s a big deal – which is what makes it so good.
The premise of the movie is that something happened to cause a zombie outbreak. It’s been so long that no one knows what, but the dead are walking the earth with an insatiable hunger. The thing is, the dead are still conscious, just barely clinging to what humanity they have left. This is fairly classic Romero in its approach. Those who are fed up with retaining their humanity end up ripping their skin off and relentlessly attack anything with a heartbeat. The rest feed but are conflicted about it.
Every part of the human body tastes good, but the brain is the best. Not simply because of how it tastes but because of what comes with it – glimpses into the person’s memories. The dead miss the feelings that come from having once lived. Eating brains is like living again by proxy. But it’s a short-term deal.
In the movie, the protagonist, R (he can’t remember the rest of his name), finds himself falling for a living girl named Julie. (There’s no mention of the houses of Montague or Capulet, but there is a brief balcony scene.) However, when he spots her, he is shot by her boyfriend. He immediately attacks and feeds on the boyfriend, eats some of the brain but saves some later. R takes Julie into his care, protecting her from the other living dead. When she sleeps, he goes back to nibbling on her boyfriend’s brain in order to both feel again and learn about her. It’s messed up, and it’s hardly mentioned.
For the several days in which she is staying with him, he is sneaking off and eating her boyfriend’s brain.
So, not only is the movie enjoyable, it takes a storytelling risk that is worth celebrating. Definitely check it out!