After the zombie apocalypse, a zombie named R (Nicholas Hoult) spends his days eating brains and wandering around the airport with his fellow zombies. They travel in packs looking for humans to feed on and similarly human venture out from their fortified city to search for food. During one of the expeditions, R meets a human named Julie (Teresa Palmer) and rescues her from the rest of his pack. The two begin to bond causing R to slowly come back to life.
Unfortunately, the two find they are caught between two opposing forces: Julie’s father, Colonel Grigio (John Malkovich) and the Bonies. Leading the humans against their daily battle, Colonel Grigio refuses to believe that zombies have the ability to change. While the Bonies are zombie skeletons who are driven by their instinct to eat human flesh and lost all traces of humanity.
Okay, I know what you’re thinking. I got the same weird looks from my friends, too. But the trailer made me laugh so I just had to watch it.
Anything in the comedy genre that has John Malkovich in its cast has got to be absurdly funny, or at least you hope it is. I feel like John Malkovich’s turn in oddball comedy probably started around Being John Malkovich but the truth is he’s been playing these type of character way before then (e.g. Of Mice and Men). As Julie’s father though, Malkovich is a bit more straight-laced. Colonel Grigio has this “it’s us versus them” mentality and anything over-the-top will have probably been too much for this absurd plot. It was a smart way to go for his character even if a part of me wanted him to act crazy.
The humor comes mainly from the best friend zombies, R and M (Rob Corddry). We get most of the story through R’s narration as zombies can’t speak much beyond the grunt and occasional word.
Nicholas Hoult is one of those kid actors who has never been afraid to try different genres. From his mature debut film Intimate Relations, to About a Boy which brought him to the public eye, to A Single Man and X-Men: First Class, they have all brought out a different side of this actor’s talent. Here, he showcased that talent by acting out most of the scenes with just a look or gesture.
Though R spends most of the movie with Julie, I love the chemistry between R and M as they grunted through most of their scenes together. It’s so unexpected to see Hoult being paired so well with Corddry, you just don’t really expect it, as Hoult isn’t really known for his comedic acting and Corddry isn’t really known for his subtle acting. I think that just shows you how adept they both are to change gears. I wish Rob Corddry was in more movies because he’s a great actor but often overlooked.
As for Julie, she may be the story’s heroine but she’s certainly not afraid to get down and dirty. Teresa Palmer has a bit of that Kristen Stewart awkwardness which bugs me but thankfully, she’s not the main focus of the story. She brings what she needs to make this star-crossed lovers thing work on screen so it’s enough to say that she does her job but Hoult carries most of the movie’s weight.
The movie is pretty stereotypical but I really liked this deadpan romantic comedy though I realize not everyone is going to like this movie. It has more of that cult classic feel rather than a box-office blockbuster and you have to approach the story with a grain of salt.
Despite Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet parallels, I like the inventiveness of bringing together these disparate genres. While I didn’t really laugh-out-loud, I certainly found myself hur-hur-ing all throughout the movie. Plus, the love story is pretty cute in that undead sort of way.