I remember when this came out in cinemas it was being described as Twilight with zombies as if before Twilight there had never been romance in horror films. I suppose we’re meant to have agreed that films aimed at the young adult female market are to be dismissed off-hand by reference to the hugely popular but critically panned film and book series. It’s not the first to tackle the idea of a relationship between a living human and a zombie but that was certainly the opinion of the mainstream reviewers who snickered at the concept. This is more of a comedy than horror film and though comedy tastes my vary I liked its take on the zombie genre.
R (Nicholas Hoult) is a zombie in a world long after the plague hit and as he wanders around an airport we hear his thoughts in narration. I know narration can be annoying but it gets over the fact the protagonist of the film barely talks, communicating with his best friend M (Rob Corddry) by grunts. These zombies still remember being alive and their daily routines are like a ritual repeat of those memories. Eventually those memories are lost and zombies become bonies; fast, savage skinless creatures who feast on anything with a heartbeat.
Eventually a zombie has to eat so R and M go out on a hunt with a group of other zombies because there’s safety in numbers. In a hospital they come across a group of humans who are scavenging medical supplies. R kills the leader of the group Perry (Dave Franco) and as he eats his brain he gets Perry’s memories which are full of his love for Julie (Teresa Palmer) and his desire to protect her. R fights off the zombies trying to attack her but Julie gets knocked unconscious during the attack.
R decides to take Julie back to the airport to protect her until she recovers and the other zombies stop looking for her. This is the first time Julia has ever met a zombie with any sense of compassion for others and she learns that R at least seems to have an inner life with his large record collection on the plane he calls home.
By the time R gets Julie back the walled human enclosure her feelings for R have grown and she realises that he may well be the first sign that the zombie condition is curable. There are problems to overcome such as convincing the humans, particularly Julie’s father Grigio (John Malkovich) that a cure is possible and tackling the bonies that are gathering to invade the human stronghold.
I liked the characters in this film and I was not bothered that the zombies in his film followed their own rules. The two stage zombie thing was probably necessary to allow the zombies to be somewhat sympathetic by having the uber zombie bonies as the main threat. This was also done in the vampire film Daybreakers where the normal populations are vampires who become bestial uber vampires through lack of blood.
The film plays about with the relationship between R and Julie and even has a balcony scene but it never gets too icky. There were nice touches like the scenes of R smearing with smelly goo and teaching her to walk like a zombie to blend in at the airport are mirrored later when Julie puts make-up on R and coaches him to seem more human to blend in at the enclosure. For a zombie film there is not much gore which probably explains the 12A rating. I thought it was a decent fun film with a few laughs. It has the cheesy old theme of the power of love makes us human but why not?