This article contains spoilers for Warm Bodies.
A Romeo and Juliet-esque rom-com starring zombies and human resistance fighters sounds like the kind of high concept Hollywood cash-in unleashed into the frigid Winter months to remind us how wonderful the rest of the movie year can be. But you know what? Warm Bodies is pretty lovely.
Despite the supernatural overtones (which had some declaring the movie “the next Twilight” without too much other reason), Warm Bodies is a low-key, romantic story of a zombie, R (Nicholas Hoult), falling for a human, Julie (Teresa Palmer), who just fed her boyfriend to pack of hungry undead. We were unexpectedly taken by the movie, which sticks to its intimate, quirky central relationship instead of worrying too much about the rules or world around it. As in, it sticks to the sweet stuff.
That said, with a foundation of horror creepiness the movie does provoke a few questions. What is the world behind R and Julie like? While the movie didn’t give us much time to dwell on them — we had a mismatched couple to worry about! — here are a few lingering thoughts we had after exiting the theater. Do you have answers?
Why Is There a Zombie Apocalypse in the First Place?
Since we become so invested in R’s struggle to be normal and connect with the girl of his dreams, it would have been nice to see a sliver of his life before brain-eating. Early on, he conjures a glimpse of the “unaffected world” as he wonders the airport — but is it a memory or a visual trick whipped up by director Jonathan Levine that only we, the audience, can see? It’s always interesting how zombie movies work their way to the apocalypse. To keep R a bit of mystery, it’s understandable why this “how” wasn’t explored in Warm Bodies, but in the bigger picture, it’s certainly intriguing.
Where is Nora’s (Analeigh Tipton) Family?
Speaking of life before the worldwide tragedy, one reminder that we don’t know much about the pre-disaster world is Julie’s friend Nora. The twenty-something is like the Kimmy Gibbler of the Warm Bodies world. She’s always hanging around Julie — even while at home — with little explanation as to why she doesn’t head back to her family and be independent. One assumes that Nora’s family was killed during the early days of the crisis. But you won’t find that in the immediate context of the film.
What Qualifies Someone for a Scavenging Trip?
After witnessing his zombie father gunned down by Julie, Perry (Dave Franco) decides to enlist in the army, led by Julie’s Dad (John Malkovich). He’s handed an enormous gun and sent on missions to help the survivors. We see him take on a scavenging trip for food. But even though they’re not in the army, Julie and Nora go with him. What happened there?! I’m glad our military isn’t opt in.
Why Are the Zombies Slowly Able to Speak to Each Other?
Early on, R meets M at a bar. R’s internal monologue tells us that they’re friends — sort of. Since they can barely speak, they mostly grunt, make rigid hand gestures, and go about their days. But later in the film, after R is beginning to change but before anyone else has the romantic epiphany, those rules start breaking. The zombies of Warm Bodies slowly begin to feel more sentient then they were letting on. Whole phrases, decision-making skills — R even reveals to Julie that he’s spent months collecting vinyl records for his airplane home, which he’s decorated. Is the zombie apocalypse actually a flash mob gone horribly wrong?
Why Can M Remember His Mother, but R Can’t Remember Any of His Own Life?
Memories are also a murky subject in Warm Bodies. Besides being able to eat other peoples’ brains and absorb their memories (is that real? is that something I could do?!), the rules of zombiedom aren’t clear on what individuals can recall after their deadly transformation. R has nothing in his memory banks, although he learns to dream after meeting Julie. M seems to recall his past, specific faces and places from before he turned. Are there qualities that make the two different that affect their interaction with whatever causes the zombie apocalypse?
Why Does R Need to Eat People to Keep Himself from Dying?
A particularly interesting detail on the zombie digestion process: unlike most undead, who run around eating people because they damn well feel like it, R explains to Julie that he must eat people — and that he’s really sorry that he scarfed down her boyfriend’s face before saving her. If R is already dead, what is going on inside that requires him to feast on the flesh of the living. They didn’t cover this in 10th grade biology.
What’s the Tipping Point for Becoming a Boney?
On top of the eating problem, zombies also risk becoming Bonies. What’s the moment of degradation in a zombie’s existence that forces them to strip down their own skin and go on a fast-moving killing spree? Is this what R means by “dying.” The Bonies still require food, just not with their birthday suits on. The Boney mythology goes relatively unexplored but it feels worn in in the film — a great mystery that broadens the world.
Did you have any who/what/where/when/why’s after leaving Warm Bodies? Share them and leave your own thoughts on our questions in the comments below. People interested in the world of Warm Bodies may have answers soon: a prequel novella, The New Hunger by original author Isaac Marion, has just been released and dives into the backstories of the main characters!
[Photo Credit: Summit Entertainment]
Follow Matt Patches on Twitter @misterpatches
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