Nicholas Hoult is dead good as a cute, soulful young zombie, so captivated by the lovely, living doll Julie (Teresa Palmer) that, instead of eating her brains (like he’s just done with her boyfriend Dave Franco), he saves her life and falls in love with her.
Hoult hides her in an abandoned 747 filled with the charming relics of a happier past he’s found on his raids – vinyl records, snow globes and musical instruments. But the plane’s parked up at a zombie-ridden airport. Can he then save her from zombie attack and both of them from her warmongering dad (a pretty rancid turn from the great John Malkovich) and the relentless onslaught of the Boneys (feebly CGI-ed animated corpses left over from old Ray Harryhausen movies)?
Based on the debut novel by Isaac Marion, this surprisingly appealing zom-rom-com is loads better than expected. Intended probably for the upper end of the Twilight set (i.e. older ones with some brains), it’s quite a bleak, dark-toned little yarn taken mostly (and commendably) seriously, but with quite a few, highly effective laughs and some good, sweet romantic moments along the way. Crucially, Romeo and Juliet is accessed, but it’s adroitly played for laughs as much as kisses.
If you’re happy to forgive a few naff moments and shaky scenes and ideas that are struggling to work there’s plenty of tense, lusty action to enjoy, a solid scenario to relish and there are the performances of Hoult, Palmer and Franco to admire. They really provide the acting class that makes it work. It might be a bit ‘girly’ but, unlike Twilight, it’s not ever soppy and boys are definitely catered for too in the movie.
Warm Bodies began as a seven-page online story called I Am a Zombie Filled with Love. Isaac Marion turned it into a novel in 2010. Now the film. Next a sequel? And another? Then a TV series? Success is hard to argue with.