Warm Bodies made me feel a little dead inside
I have a trio of free Regal Cinemas movie passes that I received as a present, and this Monday I used one of them to go see the teenage zombie rom-dramedy Warm Bodies. I would say that I wasted my free pass, but I had a pleasant evening overall with the friends who had invited me out.
I didn't expect to like the movie, but I had heard it was at least watchable. Throughout the screening I was mostly just mildly bored, and then there was a jarring moment of disgust. And then another. And then another. And now, as I think more about the film, I've really come to hate it.
The movie is dull and predictable. It has nothing new to say about love, or conflict, or resolving differences. It's as commercial and hollow as can be. I knew going into it that heterosexual love would save the day. Right off the bat I "hated" the film in the sputtering, defeated way that I hate all mainstream media. And then the male protagonist abducted the female lead and held her captive under false pretenses...and we were supposed to find his actions endearing instead of abusive. And then, when the female lead has left him behind--because he ate her boyfriend!--his best friend comforts him by grunting "Bitches, man." That casual reinforcement of misogyny and rape culture got a big laugh from the audience.
Finally, in order to have some kind of tension and conflict, the film instroduces two kinds of zombies. The human-looking, slow-moving zombies like the protagonist, and the skeletal, fast-moving "bonies." The bonies are the "bad guys," but the film treats them inconsistently. They're what becomes of zombies who "give up on their humanity," and are supposedly without feeling...but they became angry, and organize themselves, upon hearing of the protagonists' curative straight love for each other. In the film's rushed conclusion, the protagonist informs the audience that, because the bonies "couldn't change" (back into humans), "we just killed them all." This was "kind of fun" and provided a "bonding experience" for humans and zombies.
The treatment of the bonies and the cavalierness toward slaughtering them doesn't sit right with me. Even in the context of the movie's universe, the bonies clearly were capable of emotion. And reading the film as a text, zombies are always an allegory--often a really obvious one. So in this film, who were the zombies supposed to represent? What about the bonies? What human sub-populations are we supposed to be comfortable with eradicating, on the basis that they refuse to be--or can't be--"normal?"