Warm Bodies, adapted from Isaac Marion’s novel of the same name, is a film about love in a post-apocalyptic, world. This zombie-infested society is divided between human survivors, the infected, and their less lively counterparts, the “bonies.” The division is emphasized by the colossal wall that the humans build in order to protect their heavily-fortified camp from zombie invasion.
The film sees the return of critically acclaimed 50/50 director Jonathan Levine. Warm Bodies explores the life of the character named R (Nicholas Hoult), a somewhat empathetic zombie, and his relationship with a human girl named Julie (Teresa Palmer). What starts off as an unlikely and chance encounter between the two characters sets off a chain of events that changes both of their worlds.
Warm Bodies has everything that one could want from a zombie film, namely blood and gore, but it also offers something more profound. The film is a darkly comical and earnest reflection on the lack of empathy that all too often characterizes our interactions with one another. In the words of John Malkovich’s character, people nowadays are “uncaring, unfeeling and incapable of remorse.”
During a recent roundtable interview, Nicholas Hoult pointed out that Warm Bodies highlights the breakdown of communication that results from the hectic pace of modern life. “Zombie life is not too much different when [the] human [characters] were alive,” he said. “We kind of forget to stop and enjoy what’s immediately around us … how people kind of connect with the world.”
Hoult jokingly admitted that he shares several traits with his character in the film. “I’m not very good at communication in general, so I mumble a lot. I slouch. I walk very slowly. So there’s definite similarities.”
Nevertheless, the role came as a challenge to Hoult, requiring the actor to step beyond the bounds of his existing repertoire. Hoult’s filmography consists in the main of dramas, with such notable roles as the impressionable Marcus Brewer in About A Boy, and the conflicted superhero Beast in the recent X-Men feature. Hoult noted that “playing a lead character who can’t really emote or talk,” was the “tricky part” of filming Warm Bodies. But the actor also confessed that the most difficult of the role was stopping himself from laughing during scenes with Hot Tub Time Machine star Rob Corddry.
Warm Bodies puts a twist on the zombie genre by infusing its plot with heart, humour, and introspection. It’s not your typical gore-fest, but Hoult is confident that the film will resonate with audiences nonetheless.
“I think different is good a lot of times,” he says. “I think with the more recent films, like Shaun of the Dead and Zombieland … they’ve already been pushing the zombie genre… So then it’s a good thing to kind of continue on that…There’s still stuff in there for the zombie fans and we respected the genre in many ways and pay homage to it as well.”