The premise of “Warm Bodies” is both its downfall and its ultimate success. Stuck in the restrictive boundaries of “the undead attempting to regain a connection with the living” only has a place in the far reaches of suspended disbelief provided it’s fused with consistent comedy. Fortunately, despite a setup that is almost too fast to be accepted, yet uneventful enough to drag for the impatient, the film results in evenly dispensed amusement and carefully balanced drama. It could have gone terribly, terribly wrong at so many points, but it managed to keep a level head about the production – nothing is too dark or too giddy.
“Why do I have to be so weird?” queries R (Nicholas Hoult), a highly unusual zombie who despite shuffling around a post-apocalyptic metropolis wasteland and snacking on live human flesh, takes moments out of his routine to ponder his existence. He ruminates on what his full name used to be, what professions his cohorts used to have, his bad posture, loneliness, slow movements, inability to effectively communicate with fellow automatons, his future and his past. Just as unexplained as the nation-sweeping phenomena that brought about the eight-year-long uprising of the undead is R’s capacity to narrate with such normalcy, but he does so to demonstrate a yearning for connecting with others and figuring out the meaning of life. The dwindling surviving human armies are quick to shoot the zombies, unaware that R represents a possible solution to the horrifying zombification condition. General Grigio (John Malkovich) leads the human fighters, but it’s his daughter Julie (Teresa Palmer) who accompanies a group of heavily armed, youthful scavengers out into the “dead zone” to forage for medical supplies – only to be ambushed by R and a gathering of hungry zombies.