A few months ago I reviewed Isaac Marion’s novel Warm Bodies. It chronicles the story of a semi-sentient zombie named R as he falls in love with a living girl and the two attempt to disrupt the post-apocalyptic order the world. The movie seems to be along the same lines but with a stronger emphasis on the budding romance that even the main character see as kind of weird.
In the book, R eats Julie’s boyfriend’s brain and rescues her from being eaten, too. He takes her back ‘home’ with him to a zombie ridden airport where they slowly get to know each other and she gets to see that there is something more to him. But the ‘attraction’ isn’t entirely mutual. R is infatuated with her in part because of her boyfriend’s memories rattling around his brains and in part because being with a living, breathing girl makes him feel almost alive again.
Julie, though, remains frustrated and confused and wants to go home. They bond over a few things but it takes a little while for anything romantic to develop. And even when it does it’s awkward and uncertain.
The movie trailer (seen above) takes things a bit further. Where Julie was terrified in the book about going to the airport, she seems rather bemused by sneaking inside in the movie. Where Julie remained fearfully in the airplane R called home most of the time in the book, she seems to rather enjoy her impromptu slumber party among the living dead in the movie. The book seemed to understand just how awkward the budding relationship was and sought to look beyond that.
The movie just seems to be barrelling head first into necrophelia.
Now, I’m not knocking the story. I actually enjoyed Warm Bodies as you can see from the review above. It is certainly a unique story in an over-inundated market of zombie books, movies, games, etc. And it asks a lot of good questions about what happens if in the end there winds up actually being a cure.
But it’s still creepy. Creepier than even Twilight. Because at least Edward Cullen can make complete sentences – if dramatic and simple – and he’s not bumbling around without the use of several key bodily functions. Edward Cullen can still walk around in society and people aren’t going to know that he’s dead. They’d see a pasty pretty boy, sure. But he’s not actively rotting away. R is literally falling a part. In the book he has a hole in his forehead, he has no working bodily functions, and he shambles about unable to string together complete sentences. He thinks well enough but has no memories of being a live. He is dead and to his recollections he has always been dead. There is nothing left of who he was before. Bella Swann fell in love with Edward Cullen. He wasn’t always a vampire. He could still remember his past. He knew how he got from there to the present day. Even though he was a vampire he was still functional as an individual.
R is a zombie. He at her boyfriend. By all rights, he is nothing more than a corpse.
Yes, he starts changing. You can see that in the trailer. He starts talking better, moving a bit better. R regains some of his humanity. But he’s not alive. As far as the viewer knows, he can’t come back to life. He will always be dead. It forces the budding relationship to just has this super creepy undertone.
It doesn’t help that we’ve got a love story featuring Teresa Palmer falling in love with Nicholas Hoult. That’s fine. Except, you know, the whole fact that Nicholas Hoult is playing a zombie whose been dead for no one knows how long. She’s literally falling in love with a corpse; she’s potentially going much further than that with a corpse, too. I mean, how often do movie execs sign two pretty people and not have them have sex in a movie marketed towards teens? If he’s still dead when that happens… yeah.
And yet it’s still a better love story than Twilight.