WARM BODIES - Teresa Palmer as Julie & Nicholas Hoult as R

Imagine Romeo and Juliet with zombies and you’ve pretty much nailed the plot of Warm Bodies, the latest movie in the burgeoning rom-zom-com genre kicked off by Shaun of the Dead.

Here, the feuding clans to which the star-crossed lovers belong couldn’t be further apart: she’s human; he’s a flesh-eating monster.

Actually, as played by Skins star Nicholas Hoult, Warm Bodies’ hero R is a good deal more soulful than your average film zombie. Indeed, for a victim of the apocalyptic virus, or whatever, that has turned humans into zombies, he’s surprisingly in touch with his feelings.

As for his red-eyes, blank stare, pallor and shuffling walk; surely that just makes him a fairly typical slacker? He has a snarky, angst-ridden voice-over to match, but when it comes to speaking out loud he’s as tongue-tied as the average teenage boy; can, in fact, manage little more than a grunt.

Which means good pick-up lines are something of a problem for him when he meets his Juliet, or rather, Julie, played by Aussie actress Teresa Palmer (the leather-wearing, Ducati-riding, ass-kicking blonde in I Am Number Four).

ANALEIGH TIPTON, TERESA PALMER and DAVE FRANCO star in WARM BODIES

She’s the spirited daughter of the leader (a coasting John Malkovich) of the human survivors holed up in a walled-off city. And the duo’s meet-cute comes about when Julie’s reconnaissance crew, looking for supplies beyond the walls, runs into a bunch of ravenous zombies.

The encounter doesn’t go exactly to form. Instead of chowing on her brains, R finds himself smitten with Julie, saves her from his fellow zombies and takes her back to his pad – an abandoned 747 at the airport that is the zombies’ favoured hangout.

There, amid his collection of vinyl records (Bruce, Bob; the usual undead favourites), R discovers that falling in love awakens in him dormant feelings and capabilities, suggesting that becoming a zombie isn’t necessarily a one-way street…

Warm Bodies has such a sweet and quirky spirit that it’s a shame the movie isn’t better. Unfortunately, 50/50 director Jonathan Levine’s adaptation of Isaac Marion’s novel fails to sustain the story’s premise and the narrative pace gets stuck at a zombie shuffle. Just because the film is about the undead doesn’t mean that scenes have to die on screen. (See Zombieland for a zom-com with zip.)

Still, the leads are charming, co-stars Rob Corddry and Analeigh Tipton (as the lovers’ respective best friends) provide appealing support, and the film’s best lines – most of them in R’s voice-over – really do have that vital spark.

In cinemas from Friday 8th February.

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