Zombies usually play a simple, brain-munching threat in movies, but here Hoult’s R is the lead, with a voiceover discussing his life (before and after joining the undead) making him entertaining and empathetic.
This is especially the case once he meets Palmer’s Jennie, one of the desperate humans intent on wiping out the Z-threat – although she sees more behind R’s eyes than flesh-craving frenzy.
As a dystopian zom-rom-com, it flirts with many genres: it has the splatter count and enough re-invention of the genre rules (zombies eat brains to experience their victims’ memories) to sate fans of the former, with the one-liners and on-screen chemistry to satisfy the latter two, as the Montagues and Capulets are replaced by the living and undead.
Moreover, with its observational witticisms on our iLife monotonies and rote behaviour it has more than a whiff of zombie-king Romero’s satirical bite (a sequence where R walks through an airport as the undead repeat their prior lives ranks up there with Dawn Of The Dead’s consumerism skewing).
Hoult is good in a difficult role, grunting and shuffling with ever-increasing virility as he may hold the key to ending the zombocalypse, and John Malkovich is dependably solid as Palmer’s father and protector of humankind.
It is the unconventional romance at its heart though that convinces most, making this an unusual, unique and entertaining V-Day movie-going alternative.
Good for: Seeing multiple genres spliced together with Frankenstein-like abandon and glee
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, John Malkovich | 15 | 97mins | Out February 8