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Warm Bodies
Genre Horror

Paranormal romance is now a thing. Bloodthirsty vampires and werewolves used to prey on the hearts of humans, but now it's a feast of love, not entrails. One of the horror creatures not to make the cut in Twilight was zombies. Overall, the most humanoid of the lot... the living dead did not get a chance to win Bella's heart. Perhaps the thought was too macabre, messed with Edward's skin tone and delved a little too close to necrophilia for public consumption?

Warm Bodies has changed that in a film that transforms a horror environment into something sweet, heartwarming, funny and sometimes scary. Jonathan Levine managed to balance the genre mix in 50/50, a comedy and drama about a man living with cancer, and he's done it again in Warm Bodies!

We're introduced to R, a zombie kid, whose existence has become lonely and mundane. Who can blame him, forced to survive on a diet consisting of brains and more brains, stumbling around an abandoned city with a troop of grunting, personality-challenged zombies. That is until he eats... or meets the girl of his dreams' boyfriend.

Warm Bodies is somewhere between cuddly teen romantic comedy and a guts and gore zombie horror. The production values hold up against most zombie horror flicks in terms of urban sprawl, army units, visual effects and make up. They don't shy away from shotguns, violence and grit... yet it seems to soften along with its lead character as R warms to the idea of romancing the colonel's daughter.

It doesn't get soapy or sappy like Twilight or Beastly, but leans on the central themes from Shakespeare's Romeo & Juliet and the classic fairy tale gothic romance, Beauty & The Beast. R (Romeo) and Julie (Juliet) find themselves drawn to each other, yet repelled by their heritage and ultimately doomed. This classic love theme drives the film as they transform from enemies to lovers.

To get us there, we're guided by charming co-lead performances from Nicholas Hoult (still can't believe this is the kid from About A Boy) as R and rising star Teresa Palmer as Julie. They trade brooding, distant gazes for charm in likable performances that really get you to root for the young couple as they become more involved. Hoult downplays the zombie to great effect, both dramatic and comedic, while Palmer tries to overcome her fear and see past the dead eyes.

It sounds creepy, but it isn't thanks to the warmth and wit of the script, turning an unlikely romance into an epic whirlwind adventure. The cast is reinforced by a willful John Malkovich, a doting Analeigh Tipton, a restrained Rob Corddry and short-lived Dave Franco, providing a solid platform for Hoult and Palmer to create magic.

While Warm Bodies does feel like a by-product of the Twilight phenomenon, it gives the Romeo & Juliet/Beauty & The Beast love story some fresh paint by turning it into a smart modern horror. The tension between the young lovers, the paranormal romance and the harsh environment all contribute to a pensive atmosphere, while the zombie romantic comedy adds a splash of fun and warmth to proceedings.

The bottom line: Sharp

7.00/10 ( 1 Vote )
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