Book of Life trailer

Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

When it comes to Halloween movies, we’ve run the course of the genre from the grotesque, to the slasher, to the found footage, to the spooky ghost story and every iteration of the word “frightening” that your sick little minds could conjure up for the in-between. When you get to something that bends and twists the genre ever so slightly to make a film with monstrous elements and human heartache — such as The Nightmare Before Christmas or Corpse Bride — you wonder when it’s going to happen again. With the first trailer for The Book of Life, an animated feature that’s celebrating the Day of the Dead, the magic of that realm between the living and the not-so-alive seems to be back bigger and brighter than ever before.

The film, directed by Jorge Gutierrez and produced by Guillermo del Toro (who’s fairly busy lately) follows a beautiful girl named Maria (Zoe Saldana) who must pick between two suitors — the handsome and brawny Joaquin (Channing Tatum) or the dreamy, guitar playing Manolo (Diego Luna). Evil forces who want her to end up with Joaquin, because gambling is apparently a problem in the fairy tale world, too, ensure that this will happen by sending poor sensitive Manolo to an early grave. What they don’t understand is that they’re actually doing him a solid, because life after death is a hell of a lot cooler than whatever it is we’re wasting our time doing here on earth.

Check out the trailer below.

What a stunning vision of colors and lights that seems to almost glow off the screen, showing a gorgeous underworld that’s more of a party than a death sentence. Manolo may have been transformed into a skeleton after getting bitten by that little fuchsia snake, but it’s not going to stop him from having the time of his (after)life with his new friends, or from trying to get back to his love in the realm of the living. Since this is Halloween, the day when the dead can intermix with the living, he’s got a shot at getting back up to his old land and letting his lady know how he feels.

What’s most compelling about Life is the animation, which takes its unique style from Dia de Los Muertos traditions and style. It’s not so much the story in this film that makes you want to watch the trailer again, but the intricate and detailed paintings on each of the calaveras, the flowers and fiestas, and the bursts of color in that little haunted town. Who knew being dead was such a blast?

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