Zombies, shuffling living dead with decomposing bodies and dead eyes, craving human brains to sustain them.
But what if you were a Zombie and were conflicted about it, going through the motions, the shuffling, mumbling and munching but maybe with a trace of humanity left, could you be saved?
Turning the traditional Zombie flick on it’s head, this has “R” (Nicholas Hoult) finding his inner human when confronted with a pretty vivacious victim, wanting to protect her rather than chow down on the usual grey matter.
Making a Zombie/Human love story has significant risks but largely the film pulls it off. This is mainly down to good casting with Hoult and Teresa Palmer as “Julie” making for a good couple, notwithstanding the obvious obstacles in the path of true love.
Following the usual zombie apocalypse, “R” lives in a deserted airliner complete with vinyl based music system, as it sounds purer, who knew that zombies had such audiophile good taste. When the surviving humans venture outside their protective wall for food and medical supplies, they are at risk. Capturing or saving “Julie”, after a reasonably scary opening sequence, the film makes fun of the genre, as “R” teaches his new girlfriend how to mumble and shuffle. Less is more, is the approach in case you are ever faced with that situation.
The shocks are reasonably scary, the gore is largely off screen or implied, in keeping with the PG certificate, which overall is a good choice for this light and frothy tale.
Of course no zombie film can exist without the military turning up with assorted weaponry, this time complicated by the leader of the group “Grigio” (John Malkovich) being the father of “Julie”. Understandably this father/daughter dynamic changes the story somewhat.
There is also a pecking order of zombies with “Bonies”, which are provided by CGI, the lowest of the low and irredeemable. This provides a handy disposable enemy, should events turnaround later.
Julies friend “Nora” (Tipton) adds to the fun, when the pair decide to makeover “R” to make him more presentable, or even “hot”. If only the internet was available to enable them to update their Facebook page, “Bummer”.
There are faults, the dialogue is occasionally clunky, Malkovich gets very little to do and “R” manages to recover his vocabulary remarkably quickly. The post apocalyptic world is presented believably, albeit on a budget and the effects are more than adequate. The story, once it makes the turn, gets wrapped up rather quickly and neatly, not outstaying its welcome at a short 98 minutes.
There might have been a better story for a third act, drawing parallels with certain administrations whereby the authorities are actually the bad guys using the threat of “zombies” to control the masses. Zombie threat inconveniently disappears but they have no wish to give up power but this is not that film.
Instead the story is about love or connection and the power of redemption it can bring. Although the film does add a touch of irony when the “real world” is seen, with everyone in their own private world with their mobile phones.
Good fun with a few scares, essentially a love story wrapped up in a zombie flick, a perfect date movie perhaps?