Braiiins! – or how I was charmed by Warm Bodies
I’ve also been turned into a zombie on more than one occasion. And I’ve cursed the inconvenience of sharing a limited space with brain eaters as I lived through a zombie invasion.
Considering all of this you could get the idea that I should be pretty familiar with the zombie concept, being some kind of expert on lore and mythology. But sadly I’m not. Playing World of Warcraft doesn’t require you to study them closely. All you need to do is to learn how to avoid them or kill them.
Void in my education
I haven’t taught anything about zombies from the movies either. It might come as a shock to some of you, but I don’t think I’ve watched any zombie movie in my entire life before I watched Warm Bodies the other night. All I knew was that they were dead and stupid and had a peculiar diet. “Braiiins!”
This void in my education meant that I couldn’t tell in what ways Warm Bodies broke the rules and standards of the zombie universe. I couldn’t spot the ideas that had been borrowed from other zombie movies in the past either. I knew nothing, and maybe that’s why it was so easy for me to embrace it.
Being in a right mood probably helped a bit too. I watched after a day at work in company with a colleague, another middle-aged woman who joined me for a free pre-screening on an impulse when I asked her, after failing to convince any family member to join me.
We went into it expecting the worst since we assumed we weren’t the intended target audience for a rom-com zombie movie. But the opening credits hadn’t stopped rolling before we were smiling and giggling in the most delightful way. It had already won us over.
A cute story
So this is a cute little Romeo-and-Juliet style story where a zombie boy and a non-zombie girl fall in love following on the event where he has killed and eaten her boyfriend’s brain but decided to spare her life for the beauty of her eyes or something like that.
Complications will follow since zombies aren’t popular among the few remaining humans. And when humans and zombies aren’t trying to kill each other, there are the even more dangerous skeleton figures, zombies that have progressed further into their decay to a point where there’s no return. They’re deader than the dead, they’re evil and they must be avoided. Or killed in some manner.
(Not that I understand how you can kill someone who is deader than the dead. Maybe they should do like they did in a Swedish children’s program, Greveholm, where they fought the evil spooky skeleton with soda that had a dissolving effect on bone as well as on teeth. But I’ll leave the discussion about suitable weapons against skeletons for another time.)
A charming film
It’s enough to say that I was surprised at how charmed I was by this little film. I admit there are some clichés and a certain amount of cheesiness. The usage of music is also a little bit too frequent and obvious. It’s as if it turns into a music video once in a while. I could have lived without that. But in the end I had fun watching it, particularly in the first half, where the comedy still dominated over the romance.
Warm Bodies does pass the Bechdel test, but only just barely. However I was still happily surprised to see its treatment of women. Julia isn’t just a helpless lady in distress and the object of zombie desire. She takes decisions and acts on them, is a ton better at driving a car than her zombie date, can handle a gun, has a taste for beer and opens a bottle without an opener if needed. It’s all small details, but I appreciate the effort from the writer and director Jonathan Levin.
I’ve always been much more into vampires than into zombies, as a result of being exposed to Ann Rice’s novels in my youth. Maybe it’s time for me to explore the world of zombies a little bit further, outside of Azeroth. There’s more you can do with them than grind them for XP.
The question now is: where next?
Warm bodies (Jonathan Levin, US 2013) My rating: 4/5