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31 Days of the Undead: Warm Bodies

In honor of Romero Lives!, the city's month-long George A. Romero tribute, Pittsburgh City Paper presents 31 Days of the Undead, a series of reviews and essays about zombie media. Look for new posts going up every day from now through Oct. 31.

Warm Bodies (2013)
click to enlarge 31 Days of the Undead: Warm Bodies
Summit Entertainment
Warm Bodies
In Warm Bodies, a boy sees a girl and is instantly smitten, so much so that he hears music, in this case, the John Waite rock ballad “Missing You.” If this reads like a scene from the world’s corniest romantic comedy, there’s a hitch: the boy is a zombie, and the girl is a zombie killer.

Based on the YA book by Isaac Marion and directed by Jonathan Levine, the 2013 film finds love in a post-apocalyptic place between a self-aware brain-eater known simply as R (Nicholas Hoult) and Julie (Teresa Palmer), the member of a walled-off community of human survivors led by her militaristic father (John Malkovich). But when R and Julie meet, a new threat appears, leaving them to embark on a quest to save both humans and zombies from extinction.
Despite its ambitious concept, what transpires is a mostly underwhelming dark horror-comedy buoyed by a few fun moments and an all-in performance by Hoult, who somehow manages to play both cute and gross in equal measure. That said, his character does lose a bit of sympathy when he tries to understand Julie better by eating the brains of her dead boyfriend (Dave Franco), which allows R to see his memories. You see it all, and it’s not pleasant.

There’s also the problem of the action sequences, which pit R and his fellow zombies against humans and Boneys, a devolved undead species that look like terrible skeletons. While this promises some sweet zombie brawls, the set-pieces amount to little more than a lot of bad editing and CGI.

Warm Bodies
takes an admirable risk with its material, but never fully commits to any of the tropes that make its chosen genres – that of horror and romantic comedy – so appealing, while also not striving to do something different and truly inventive.

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