What am I doing with myself? Why can't I connect with people? These are the sorts of questions that make humans sleepless and despairing. Warm Bodies posits that the same questions keep zombies up at night, too.
Well, one zombie, at least: Red-hoodied, decomposing R (Nicholas Hoult) can't remember his first name or string together a complete sentence, but he's looking for a reason to live beyond finding his next brain to feast on. He finds that reason on a hunting trip with his best friend, M (Rob Corddry), when he spares the life of a human named Julie (Teresa Palmer) and then protects her from less scrupulous ghouls. He takes her to the abandoned airplane where he lives and plays albums that convey the message he can't articulate. Little by little, the undead boy and beating-heart girl warm to one another.
To call Warm Bodies a zombie romantic comedy is both accurate and reductive. The horror is largely goreless, and the romance develops tentatively and tenderly, informed by the couple's mutual longing for a simpler, more visceral experience. And the comedy feels rooted in character, not just the zany zom-rom-com premise.
Working from the source novel by Isaac Marion, writer-director Jonathan Levine (50/50, The Wackness) has created a consequential universe, something that's rare in modern studio moviemaking. Hits hurt. People die. Small gestures of kindness mushroom into bigger things. R spends half of the film snacking on the brains of Julie's dead friend, which is more gruesome and compelling than any elaborately staged battle.