If you’re like me, you dismissed this flick in theaters as standard Summit schlock. Frankly, I’d probably never gotten around to it even with the convenience of streaming. However, it’s a perfect horror adjacent film that can entertain the spouse (or in my case, the daughter) while not boring you.
I mean...it has zombies. It can’t be that bad.
Once you get past the freshman-creative-writing-course cleverness (OMG they’re like Romeo and Juliet but their names are “Julie” and “R”), there is quite a bit to like here. John Malkovich and Rob Corddry are woefully underused, but it’s nice to have their talents rounding out the supporting cast.
Taking a story from the perspective of the zombie is rarely done, and even rarer that it's done well. Warm Bodies succeeds where something like Aaah! Zombies!! fails because of its love of the genre and desire to expand it, rather than poke fun at it. I won’t spoil this film’s answer to why zombies eat brains, but I thought it was brilliant and macabre.
The funny parts were amusing and sometimes even delightfully aware, allowing pretentious assholes like myself to laugh at obvious jokes without feeling pandered to. Sadly, Corddry is never really allowed to be as funny as we know he’s capable of, but that’s really only a problem if you’re aware of his body of work.
I know this movie’s main aim isn't terror, but it would have been nice if they put in a little more effort. The bad zombies, called “boneys”, won’t be scaring anyone other than my seven year old any time soon. They’re serviceable enough CGI, I guess, but I’d much rather see low budget practical-effect zombies than George Romero's screensaver any day.
Ultimately, what stymies any mass audience aimed Romeo and Juliet romp in the modern era is the ending. The brilliance of John Malkovich as the Lord Capulet stand-in makes you think that the film just might have some balls and go even more tragic than the original play. Again, I’ll avoid the spoiler, but leave it saying I was satisfied but a little disappointed. Sometimes I just wish that American audiences could put their big boy pants on.
All said and done, it’s a passable flick and not a bad way to spend an evening, especially with a significant other that isn't the biggest horror fan. Just don’t tell anyone I enjoyed it, lest I lose my cred. Now if you don’t mind, I’m off to practice my terrible John Malkovich impression in the shower.
Now Streaming On: HBO GO
Editors Note: "Now Screaming" is a new series of review articles written by Jeff where he'll critique horror (and horror adjacent) movies that are available on your favorite streaming services. The title is an awful play on words that we thought up where we replaced the word "Streaming" with "Screaming". Get it? Great!