Warm Bodies (2013)

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Directed by: Jonathan Levine
Written by: Jonathan Levine (screenplay), Isaac Marion (novel)
Starring: Nicholas Hoult, Teresa Palmer, Analeigh Tipton, Rob Corddry, Dave Franco, John Malkovich and Cory Hardrict

When I talk about doing something new with a tired genre, this is exactly what I mean.  Based on Isaac Marion’s novel of the same name, Jonathan Levine’s “Zomedy” or “Zom-com” about a zombie who falls in love with a human, and the connection he tries to form with her is endearing and witty and that’s it; but that’s all it needs.   It was a pleasant surprise considering the haphazard trailer left me with no desire to see the film.

What I liked: I’ve been looking for a comedy that does nothing more than entertain.  I tried Movie 43 and turned it off after the opening scene.  I tried I Give it a Year and turned it off after 15 minutes.  But this zombie flick had just enough gore, horror, humour and romance to hook me from the opening right through to the end.  I appreciated the movie’s fast pace and Levine does a good job of keeping the focus on the love story rather than a problematic post-apocalyptic society.   Nevertheless, Levine stays true to the zombie genre but without the gore that could have made it unwatchable.  Nicholas Hoult does a credible job as the zombie R whose character comes alive through minimal facial expressions and voice-over.  Teresa Palmer plays the embattled love interest with charm and strength and the two have great on-screen chemistry.

What I didn’t like:  As I mentioned above, there really isn’t much to this movie. The zombies have no memory so the characters have no past.  The zombies can’t really speak so most of the heart comes from R’s inner thoughts and his inability to express them.  There is no real foil and no real villain but the time the two protagonists spend together moves the romance forward and that is enough to keep audiences engaged.

My rating: A perfect rainy day romance.

IMDb:  7.0       tomato: 80%

Devil (2010)

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Director: John Erick Dowdle
Written by: Brian Nelson (screenplay), M. Night Shyamalan (story)
Starring: Chris Messina, Caroline Dhavernas, Bokeem Woodbine, Logan Marshall-Green, Jenny O’Hara, Bojana Novakovic, Geoffrey Arend and Jacob Vargas

One scathing review of M. Night Shyamalan’s Devil referred to the movie as a “chiller”.  I like that.  I think it aptly describes what I saw.  I am not one for horror and gore but I like a bite-your-nails experience and, despite the glossed-over storytelling, the movie made me yell at the screen, which means I was involved.  If you like horrors, this isn’t for you.  It is, at best, a suspense thriller about four people who are tortured in a stuck elevator.  It is frustrating, creepy, entertaining and fiendish without the explicit gore of so many movies.  It will make you jump but it won’t stay with you.

What I liked:  I was entertained enough that I didn’t try to figure out what was going on.  The suspense was successful enough to make me frustrated and antsy.  The ambiance was creepy enough to provide an eerie feeling throughout and I gasped and jumped in the right places.

What I didn’t like: There isn’t anything beneath the surface.  No character depth, no depth of story. Everything is explained explicitly.

My rating: Feel free to turn off your thinking cap.

IMDB: 6.3

Rotten Tomatoes: 51%

Red Lights (2012)

Director: Rodrigo Cortés
Writer: Rodrigo Cortés
Starring: Robert De Niro, Sigourney Weaver & Cillian Murphy

Red Lights is a thriller unequal to its cast.  The movie, about a skeptical professor who challenges paranormal claims, never develops its characters or scenes enough to engage the audience in any visceral way.  Rodrigo Cortes’s script and direction show signs of merit and promise which makes it all the more disappointing that it never crescendos into anything masterful.  The casting and performances save this movie from the shelf but even Cillian Murphy as Tom Buckley, desperately searching for answers and Robert De Niro as master psychic Simon Silver, can’t create the tension intended for a suspense thriller.  Even the music falls flat in setting up eerie scenes.

What I liked: The ending is more powerful than the movie which is a little satisfying.  Cillian Murphy’s charged performance is commendable even if Cortés lets his accent slip from time to time.

What I didn’t like: I can’t imagine Cortés is happy with the result of this film compared to what it must have appeared on paper to get the likes of Weaver and De Niro to sign on.  However it’s possible he let his vision get away from him.

My rating: Stream it.

Rotten Tomatoes: 17% (top critics)
IMDB: 6.2

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