Warm Bodies – Review

I can honestly say I never, ever thought that I would say that I liked a zombie movie, but I did – I absolutely loved Warm Bodies!  Yes, it’s a zombie movie, but not in the way that most zombie movies are.  I mean, it is in the way that it has zombies, but the point of this one seems to so wholly different I can’t put this in the zombie, horror movie category, except for the minor technicality that it does in fact involve zombies.  This movie doesn’t really use zombies for the purpose of giving you a good fright; it uses them for the purpose of making some really interesting statements about mankind, and its worth seeing for that reason alone.  But if that isn’t reason enough to see it, then the entertainment value is another reason.  It’s actually hilarious and refreshing.  I’m not saying it’s for everyone, and I’m not saying it’s perfect…but I did find it funny and surprising and refreshing and cleaner than most with some really powerful, redemptive messages.

I tell people that if Beauty and the Beast, Romeo and Juliet, the Walking Dead and some random indie-ish comedy movie (maybe Juno?!—I think maybe that one has a similar feel in its humor) – if those movies all got together and had a love-child…Warm Bodies would be it.  You have R and Julie, whose people are at war with each other (understandable since R is a zombie and the zombies want to eat the humans… Julie is a human).  R takes Julie hostage because he likes her and knows she won’t willingly just go out with him (to her, he’s a monster…a beast).  During the time she spends with him, she gets to know him, begins to see more inside of him, learns to trust and care for him as he protects her and provides for her needs.

As their romance blossoms, R becomes less and less zombie and more and more human.  Not only is R changed, but the other zombies begin to change as well.  The final straw to the zombies’ awakening comes in a surprising package though.  The zombies see an old poster of a father and child holding hands in the airport, and something stirs.  Holding hands.  It’s such an interesting choice.  It wasn’t romantic love exactly that sparked life in the zombies, but brotherly love, tenderness, kindness.  They had been treated like predators, and they had lived up to it, but suddenly there’s this idea, this hope (started by R and Julie) that they could experience kindness and love and it awakens them and ennobles them.

Julie tells R, “I think someday someone is going to figure this whole thing out and exhume the whole world.  Exhume means to dig up – as in a corpse.”  Julie was grieved for what had happened to her fellow man, the sad, zombie state to which so many had fallen.  She felt there had to be a way to raise them from the dead.  She just didn’t realize it would be love.

After a R and Julie balcony scene (in case you had so far missed the Romeo and Juliet connection—I guess the cheeky writers just couldn’t resist), and a final battle where the humans and zombies end up fighting side by side against the “bonies” (what a zombie becomes when there’s nothing human left—a relentless predator), Julie and R still have to face her father, the leader of the humans.  He may have seen some changes in the zombies, may have been willing to accept that they weren’t the same military threat they used to be, but he wasn’t ready to accept one as his daughter’s boyfriend…because R was still a zombie, a better zombie, but a zombie nonetheless.

Only, he wasn’t.  He had just been baptized…in water…full immersion (I was going to make a crack here about the writers and their religious affiliation, but then I realized, no, I’m not funny enough to pull that one off…sadly).  Of course, I don’t know that the baptism allusion was intended, but it was screaming out to me.  What actually happened was that they jumped from a window to a pool of water below to escape some bonies.  R shielded Julie with his own body since the fall would likely kill her, and he’s a zombie, so he can’t die.  Julie survived the fall, but had to reach down and pull up R out of the water.  He had died, (confusing, because a zombie is dead…but he was becoming human…but it makes more sense when you see it), but then his heart began to beat—he came to life, to a new life, a human life.  He was truly baptized – dead to his old life, risen again in new life.

Julie’s father wasn’t ready to accept it.  R was shot in the shoulder.  It wasn’t fatal.  Actually, in a strange way, it was life-saving.  He was saved by the blood.  Her father didn’t believe that R was really a new creature, until he saw the blood.  Zombies don’t bleed.  R was saved by the blood.

The humans began to do what they should have been doing all along.  Rather than treating the zombies like predators, they began to show them kindness and try to help them.  They realized they could make a difference in the lives of the zombies and help restore them to life.  They had compassion and patience with the zombies’ limitations.  Zombie’s don’t speak as well, don’t have the dexterity that people do, etc., but they were improving as little by little parts of their lives were awakened and renewed.

In one of my favorite moments at the very end, a zombie is having trouble opening his umbrella.  A kind woman walking past stops and offers to help.  “Thanks”, he tells her, “I still have zombie fingers.”  He was mostly alive, but parts of him still functioned like his old nature.  Isn’t that what it’s like when we come to know Christ?  We are new creatures, but there are parts of us that haven’t yet come alive in Christ. There are still areas in our lives where our sin nature still affects our ability to function as we ought.  We ought to be showing the same help, patience and understanding as that kind woman did when we encounter someone who is still having trouble with “zombie fingers.”

It’s a brilliant movie in so many ways.  What I saw though was a movie about the church (the humans) and its interaction with the secular world.  It showed how we sometimes fail our fellow man when we see him (maybe rightly so) as a predator and treat him as such, rather than doing all we can to show kindness and awaken something greater in him.  Jesus did come to exhume the world, quite literally.  He did so with love.  We know that it’s possible to exhume the dead with the love of Christ, but it’s a process—one in which we are invited to participate.  The movie shows that process beautifully at the end.  It shows the humans in their varied forms of loving care and ministry to the zombies.  It’s really a beautiful portrait of what the church should look like in so many ways.  (I’m not saying it’s a complete portrait, mind you.  I’m not saying the church should only be a philanthropic organization…surely the teaching and worship of the Triune Godhead is critical but they do get part of it in such a way that is inspiring.)

Questions for Discussion:

  • Did you see any parallels between this movie and the Christian life?
  • How would you compare the humans to the church (or Christians that you know)?  In the way they lived, their fears, their relationships with others, their response to the zombies?
  • R changed throughout the movie.  Have you ever known someone who “became a Christian”? Did you see changes in them?  How would you compare their change to that of R’s?
  • What did you find inspiring about the movie?
  • How did the movie challenge you to live differently?  Or did it?
  • How do you feel about the idea that the zombies, people that everyone else had given up on and considered beyond help, hope or change, could change?  Are there people in your life that seem “too far gone”?  Does your heart break for someone who seems beyond help, hope or change?  Do you believe that there’s no one God cannot reach?
  • Julie wanted to see the world exhumed.  Jesus came and died so that that could happen, the world could be exhumed.  What do you think about that?  Do you like the idea?  Do you believe in it or think it’s only wishful thinking?
  • When people realized that Julie was right, the world could be exhumed, zombies could become human again—it changed the way they lived.  If Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection are true, and mankind can be saved, how would it change the way you lived?

Click here to read a collection of quotes from Warm Bodies.

by Stacey Tuttle