In the brilliant opening scene, expertly directed by relative newcomer Jonathan Levine, R explains his situation. Using the airport as a point of reference is amusing to see, and the filmmakers seize the opportunity to tip their hats at past zombie films when R vaguely describes what may have caused the outbreak. I really enjoyed seeing the writers' interpretation of what a zombie could possibly want. What is a zombe? Something that once used to be an immensely complicated individual that has been stripped down to the basest instinct: the need to feed. What would something like this want? Well, in this case it's a human connection. Applying a modern day retelling of Romeo and Juliet to a zombie film may seem crazy, but it actually works.
The film is well balanced with humor, romance and horror. Featuring a supporting cast filled in with John Malkovich (as a de facto leader of the last remaining humans behind a divide) and Rob Corddry (as R's best friend, who is also a zombie), all the actors used make a strong impression. The direction is polished and has its own unique feel. I was particularly struck by the long, lingering shots of the giant wall that keeps the zombies out of what reamins of human civilization and how it became a character unto itself. The soundtrack also shines, featuring an eclectic mix of the old and the new. As someone who has long since grown tired of zombie movies, I'm glad to say that there is still originality out there.
This movie manages to bring new life (literally) to a long since stale genre.
To see or not to see: SEE NOW!
+ A refreshing take on the zombie film, the movie has a heart despite its lifeless main character.
+ The direction is superb and doesn't shy away from the stark realities of what a zombie really is.
+ Excellent casting, the two leads have great chemistry as a post-apocalyptic Romeo and Juliet.
+ Features an almost perfect introduction that keeps you hooked the rest of the movie.
+ Great use of soundtrack that in one later scene is used in a truly hilarious way.
- The movie perhaps humanizes R a bit too quickly, as we never we see him in full on zombie mode.
Check out this clip of the brilliant introduction...