Warm Bodies offers a take on a zombie tale that is at once gentle and kind. At first that would seem a direct contradiction to the actual genre convention but yet Warm Bodies under the direction of Jonathan Levine treats the story like a morality tale, which allows the jettison of R-rated gore for a more sophisticated kind of PG-13 romance.
In Warm Bodies the zombies are actually conflicted about eating brains and when lead zombie R (Nicholas Hoult, that’s the sound he makes) sees Julie (Teresa Palmer) it stirs a bit of life back into his heart. “It’s a bit of a balancing act,” admits Levine to Free Press Houston on a recent visit to Houston.
Levine’s previous films are themselves a balance of genres. The Wackness, and in particular 50/50 mixed drama and comedy in satisfying and surprising ways. “I took a bleak post-apocalyptic world and created a sweet fairy tale seen through the lens of pop culture,” Levine succinctly states about Warm Bodies, also noting that the source novel by Isaac Marion includes social commentary. “We made an R-version in order to cut it back, but all we basically pulled from that version was a bunch of close-ups of eating brains, which is pretty gross,” acknowledges Levine.
Levine shot the film in Montreal and was able to utilize a couple of locations that gave his film a super realistic look – a huge stadium and an airport. “Years ago when they had a World’s Fair [Expo ‘67] they built an airport for the event but then afterwards realized they had it ten miles too far out of town and built another one, so we had an entire abandoned airport as a set. Also the Montreal Expos moved to Washington D.C. in 2005 so we also had an empty stadium to shoot in,” notes Levine. Analeigh Tipton, Rob Corddry, Dave Franco and John Malkovich co-star.
— Michael Bergeron