Somehow, I just knew that our “52 Most Anticipated Movies of 2012” would pay off! You know, eventually. Included on that massive list is 50/50 director Jonathan Levine‘s next film, and while the idea of a sexy zombie story about teens might turn some of you off, I beg you to give it a chance. Based on Isaac Marion‘s 2011 novel of the same name, the film follows young zombie R (Nicholas Hoult) as he grapples with a new twist on the classic zombie story – he’s not dealing with the fall-out of turning into a zombie, he’s trying to come to terms with becoming a human (again).
Young R has been a zombie for, well, he doesn’t even know how long (but not too long, he’s still got meat on his bones), and everything else pre-zombification is just weird memory ether. It’s not there. But all that changes when a beautiful human girl (Teresa Palmer) and some weird happenings begin to dull the desire for brains and blood in R, while also awakening the human that might still lurk inside him. R’s change has not only personal implications, but effects on human-zombie relations at large. That may seem somewhat hard to picture, which is why I’m glad we get our first look at Hoult in his zombie get-up today. Readers of Marion’s excellent book will surely approve of his look, as it matches up with the author’s description of R quite handily.
Check out the full look at Hoult after the break, along with the film’s official synopsis (and some pieces that appear to be missing, as if the body of the book has had a few bites taken out of it by a totally metaphorical zombie).
The full synopsis of Warm Bodies is below. Readers of the book will notice that there’s something missing here – a somewhat essential element of the story, which I’ll discuss a bit after the synopsis, for those spoiler-adverse.
“Zombies love people, especially their brains. But R (Nicholas Hoult) is different. He’s alive inside, unlike the hundreds of other grunting, drooling undead—all victims of a recent plague that drove the remaining survivors into a heavily guarded city. Now the Zombies roam about an airport terminal, searching for human prey and living in fear of the vicious Boneys, the next undead incarnation.
One day, R and his best friend M lumber toward the city in search of food. There, R first sets his eyes on JULIE (Teresa Palmer), a beautiful human. Determined to save her—first from the other Zombies and then from the Boneys—R hides her in his home, a cluttered 747 aircraft. Julie is terrified, and R’s grunted assurances of “Not…eat” do little to calm her. But when R begins to act more human than Zombie, coming to her defense, refusing to eat human flesh, and even speaking in full sentences, Julie realizes that R is special.
After a few close calls with the Boneys, and with her father mounting an armed search for her, Julie realizes she can’t hide forever. So she sneaks back home, leaving R broken-hearted. Desperate to see her, R decides to comb his hair, stand a little straighter, and impersonate a human long enough to get past the city guards. If only he can prove to the humans that Zombies can change, maybe R and Julie’s love might stand a chance. But with the rampaging Boneys heading toward the city and Julie’s father intent on killing R and his Zombie friends, the stage is set for an all-out battle between the living and the undead.
A genre-bending tale of love and transformation, WARM BODIES is a story about a boy who loves a girl…for more than just her body.”
If you’ve read Marion’s book (and I have), you’ll know that R’s transformation doesn’t happen just because of the lovely Julie – it’s aided immeasurably by an unfortunate (and previously unrecorded) side effect of his chowing down on human flesh. R first meets Julie during an intimate battle between R and his friend M (to be played in the film by Rob Corddry, a weird but intriguing choice for the role) and a pack of young humans. During the battle, R takes a bite out of Perry Kelvin, who oops! just so happens to be Julie’s longtime boyfriend. What happens after the feeding shocks R to his core – he begins to experience Perry’s memories and emotions, memories and emotions that allow R to feel some very human feelings, most of them directed at Julie.
Makes a touch more sense, right? But while the exclusion of that plot point (and one that has not been hidden in the marketing of the book) from the official synopsis seems a bit weird, with Dave Franco cast in the role of Perry, I think we’ll be seeing (or feeling) the character more often than not.
Oh, and Perry, the former suitor? And R, the lovestruck new gentleman caller? And Julie, the beautiful young lady? And, well, you wouldn’t be surprised if I told you there was a balcony scene in Warm Bodies, would you? Because there is.