There's a key difference between the dead and the really and truly dead — a difference that comes to light when R strikes up a bond with Julie ( Teresa Palmer ). Granted, their "meet cute" involves mass slaughter and the consumption of one character's brains, which allows a zombie to access a dead character's memory. But other than those small details, the courtship of R and Julie isn't all that different from what we've seen in any number of human/human as well as human/supernatural creature romances, including the "Twilight" movies. Hoult and Palmer have a lovely, natural chemistry, even when the circumstances are grisly or silly — or both.
Winfrey plays Sethe as a woman who can sometimes brighten and relax, but whose spirit always returns to the sadness of what she did, and the hatred of those who forced her to it. It is a brave, deep performance. Supernatural events whirl around her, but she is accustomed to that; she's more afraid of her own memories. Thandie Newton, as Beloved, is like an alien. (I was reminded of Jeff Bridges in “ Starman .”) She brings a difficult character to life by always remembering that the tortured spirit inside was still a baby when it died. Danny Glover, big and substantial, is the pool of caring that Sethe needs if she is ever to heal. Kimberly Elise , as Sethe's grown daughter, plays the character as a battered child--battered not by her mother but by the emotional maelstrom of 124 Bluestone Road. And the legendary Beah Richards has an electric screen presence as Baby Suggs, Sethe's mother-in-law, who presides over haunting spiritualist ceremonies.