Warm Bodies: a parable for world peace
This isn’t so much a review as a meditation on the story, like you’d be subjected to on the ride home from the film if you were with me when I saw it.
There are spoilers below, so turn back now if you know what’s good for you.
Warm Bodies tell the Romeo and Juliet story in zombie form, with the power of love making it possible for zombies to come back to life. I liked the film quite a bit for several reasons:
- It’s cute and funny, even beyond the bits they showed too much of in the commercials.
- It was relatively gore free. This is crucial for mainstream audiences to start liking zombies and zombie movies better. This could very well be one of the first zombie movies I let our children watch.
- It was a well-formed and believable(?) story. I put the question mark in there because hey, it is a zombie movie.
There were a few things I didn’t like about it:
- Some of the themes were a bit on the heavy-handed side, as will inevitably be the case when the power of human connection is what brings people back to life.
- We know the colonel feels guilty about his wife dying. It is clearly what drives him just as Julia’s boyfriend (not the zombie) was driven by his father’s death.
Two larger concerns:
First, what is the physical state of the post-zombie person (like R at the end of the film)? Are they human, as is implied by the bleeding? If they’ve been dead this whole time, what happens to the state that made them be dead to begin with, I.E. gross bodily trauma? Are those wounds somehow healed by the zombie virus? Does it cure internal maladies (like cancer)? If you have terminal cancer, die of a zombie bite, reanimate, and then are cured, do you still have cancer at the end? Yes, you lose your memories of your former life, but the Rob Corddry character’s experience implies something more complex.
Second, I regret to say that this film won’t be as interesting in my zombie class as I would have hoped. The zombie romance part is pretty uncomplicated — there aren’t any ethical questions or quandaries in the romance (except the dead boyfriend, which gets massaged over pretty quickly), and the larger questions about how society would deal with the post-zombie world aren’t addressed. Zombie Honeymoon and My Boyfriend’s Back both deal with the question of the ethics of eating other people a bit more directly and strongly.
I think Warm Bodies would be interesting to think about in a class about conflict resolution. The central message of the film has to do with the way human contact can overcome strong adversarial feelings. It’s kind-of utopian in that way.