It may say something about me—and something not altogether good—that Warm Bodies was not the first zombie-themed romance I’ve seen It might not even be the fifth. Or tenth. But this picture, based on a novel by Isaac Marion, may be the best.
Warm Bodies isn’t much of a horror flick. Rather, it’s Romeo and Juliet with a dash of rigor mortis and, of all things, a happy ending. Instead of people poisoning or stabbing themselves, some of the main characters spring back to life.
And that’s great. Because really, who wants to see zombies give Shakespearian speeches as they try to kill themselves (again)?
It’s also potentially quite spiritual, if you’re looking for that sort of thing. Sure, the makers of Warm Bodies probably didn’t have a Christian metaphor in mind when they made the thing, but I’ve always felt that zombie narratives and Christianity have quite a bit in common. After all, our whole walk of faith is predicated on finding life in the midst of death. Jesus raises several people from the grave, and He’s often telling us that we’re actually the zombies—not fully alive until our hearts are kick-started by the grace of God. And the main premise of the movie (you can watch the trailer below) is that love can bring even zombies back to life. That’s not just sweet. It’s pretty profound.
But the thing that struck me even more in this film was how the zombies learned to love in return.
Our two main characters here are R, a angst-riddled zombie, and Julie, the still-living daughter of a post-apocalyptic general. When the two meet, R’s priorities immediately change. Instead of his life revolving around grunting and shambling and eating people, he’s all about Julie—her wants, needs, and comforts. When Julie knows she has to go back to her own people, R dutifully escorts here—even knowing that he’ll likely lose her. And when he learns that a bunch of “boneys” (zombies that are beyond redemption) are after her, R sneaks into the human compound to warn her—even though it could well mean his death. Or second death. Or whatever.
R’s love goes beyond just romcom sweet and sentimental. It goes beyond even sacrificially heroic. It touches a pure, biblical manifestation of love. Take a look at what Paul says:
Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. … And now these three remain: faith, hope and love. But the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor. 13: 4-7, 13)
I love my wife. I love my kids. But does my love always patient, always trusting? No. But R’s love is. He’s never rude. He’s never self-seeking. But does he trust? Does he persevere even in the worst of moments? Yes. R seems to live in a world where there is very little faith, very little hope. But he loves. And as it turns out, that’s enough.