The Dead Don’t Dream: Warm Bodies (2013)

The Dead Don’t Dream:

Warm Bodies


Since Zack Snyder’s terrific reboot of George A.  Romero’s zombie films with Dawn of the Dead, the living dead ones seem to have really caught hold on the imagination of a certain type of filmgoer.  I’ve a feeling that this is something that might come to an end when World War Z with Brad Pitt is released shortly.  I could be wrong, but I’ve had a bad feeling about this one since seeing the trailer a few weeks back.

Never mind; if that does prove to be the zombies’ apocalypse (boom! boom!) they have had a good shuffle in the meantime, giving us everything from comedies like Shaun of the Dead to rather beautiful modern westerns like Stake Land. That latter is one of my favourites. It is undeservedly overlooked and for those who are going to say that it’s a vampire movie I’m just not listening.  I’m putting it down as a zombie flick—and an excellent one at that.

We have even had a fabulously successful TV series based on an equally successful comic book in the shape of The Walking Dead. And now, implausibly, we have director Jonathan Levine reaching out to the Twilight crowd with…a romantic zombie comedy? Twilight and ‘romantic zombie comedy’; could I possibly make it sound worse?  Yet guess what:  it works!  I kid ye not, you would have to have a dead zombie heart not to respond to the plight of these particularly badly star-crossed lovers.  You see, it’s not really a comedy, except in the rather gentle way in which Levine’s previous film 50/50 was; and it’s probably not the kind of movie that would satisfy the hard-core zombie fan, a species that I still find difficult to come to terms with, but I do hope that they give it a chance.

Warm Bodies begins several years after a—wait for it—zombie apocalypse has swept away civilization as we knew it and replaced it with wandering groups of zombies (these being of the get-there-eventually kind as opposed to the Snyder speedies) and groups of human survivors. The main bulk of these are led by Colonel Grigio, played by John Malkovich who is rapidly becoming weirder-looking than any zombie—and I mean without the make-up.

His followers go into zombie territory on regular foraging expeditions and during one of these the Colonel’s daughter Julie (Teresa Palmer) is involved in a zombie attack.  Luckily for her she is rescued by R (Nicholas Hoult), an unusual member of the Walking Dead fraternity who has achieved a certain amount of self-awareness, something that we know since he has been the movie’s narrator from the beginning.  And in an amusing (and very bloody accurate) scene we see R. imagine how wonderful it must have been before the Fall.

“It must have been so much better before”, he muses as he wanders around an airport terminal, “when everyone could express themselves and communicate their feelings and enjoy each other’s company.”  As we listen to this we see the reality with all our modern day real-life zombies lost in their own private world of mobile phones, music through earphones and anything they can find to shut themselves off from other human beings.

Which one of us can honestly say that we haven’t spent a lot of time wondering just what goes through the minds of the Walking Dead?  Do they live in a perpetual Zen moment; do they simply think eternally of eating brains? Do they—what? No one? No one has given it any thought?  Oh yeah…me neither.  Honest.

“I know it’s really hard to meet guys right now, with the Apocalypse, but…”

He takes Julie back to the empty aircraft that he calls home and she gradually begins to trust him, seeing him as something different.  Mind you, he is off to a bad start; or as R. puts it himself:  “There are lots of ways to get to know a person.  Eating her dead boyfriend’s brains is one of the more unorthodox methods.”

Still, love will find a way and in fact his love for Julie begins to change him to the point where his heart starts beating and his blood starts flowing again.  But will a changed world—and Julie’s gung-ho dad—allow them to find happiness?

Just as an aside it took R. standing under Julie’s balcony for me to see the Shakespeare connection.  How’s that for dim?

I have to say that I really liked this film.  It doesn’t push anything in your face and yet there are really nice little snippets of dialogue and some nice sight gags.  I liked the image of R. sitting looking at photos in a glossy magazine that has the appalling Kim Kardashian on the cover.  No prizes for guessing which one I consider to be the real Walking Dead.

This is a film that has its dead heart in the right place and I hope that you give it a go. It also has one of the best soundtracks you’ll hear this year.

The screenplay is by Levine himself and is based on the novel of the same name by Isaac Marion.

Author: Charley Brady

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  1. I actually quite enjoyed this, I was well aware before I went in that I wasn’t going to get the usual zombie gore fest, I’m all for different takes on genres.
    It did drag a bit during the middle part of the movie and it took a bit of getting used to zombies who could run nearly as fast as Usain Bolt and spring like fleas but overall certainly not the worst spent hour and half or so of my life.

  2. Zombies are people too!

  3. Indeed they are, Darren! In fact I would go so far as to say that they have more life in them than some of our current crop of politicians.

    Or even an ex-girlfriend of mine.

    Then again, that wasn’t so much being into zombies as being into necrophilia.

    Believe it or not, there’s a difference.

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