Eight years after an unknown event brings the dead back to life to feast on the flesh of the living, one young zombie (call him R) shuffles through an aimless existence; though vocally reduced to monosyllables, R is able to take startlingly clear perspective on his life with a robust inner monologue. Protracted circumstances find him feeling oddly protective toward Julie, a young survivor suspicious of her undead savior. But R's growing feelings for Julie begin to have startling effects on both of them, and the shattered world around them.
WARM BODIES is certain to be deemed not-hardcore-enough by the zombie faithful. But though clearly pitched mainly at a young adult audience, its orientation is pitched toward fantasy rather than pig-guts-and-fake-blood. As such, it's absolutely charming, and disarmingly earnest. Nicholas Hoult is as adept at R's zombie meanderings as his glib, smart voice-over; Teresa Palmer offers a solid and believable young heroine in Julie. (Rob Corddry brings a nice energy to a solid supporting arc R's zombie peer M.) Jonathan Levine keeps the whole thing balanced, mixing some overt Shakespeare references, a nice wrinkle on zombie-unlife-as-contemporary-metaphor, and, most crucially of all, an unflinchingly sincere sense of romance. Whether or not the hardcore zombie crowd are open-hearted enough to accept it is open to question; the rest of us get to enjoy the spectacle of unabashed romantics injecting new life into the dead genre.