Release Date: 14th September, 2012
In the small, ordinary town of Blithe Hollow, Norman Babcock (Kodi Smit-McPhee) is an 11 year old boy with an extraordinary talent; he can see and speak to the dead. When walking home from school with his only friend Neil (Tucker Albrizzi), Norman is stopped by his “crazy” uncle (John Goodman) who warns him that he must use his gift to save the town from a 300 year old witch’s curse. So, along with Neil and a bunch of dysfunctional characters; Norman has to rescue the town from the supernatural.
Congratulations to the Laika Animation Studios for creating a teen/pre-teen film that will scare the heebie-jeebies out of its intended audience! The almost clay-like animation and the gothic, unexpected horror premise mimic’s the equally beautiful; Coraline. Directors Chris Butler and Sam Fell have managed to create a horror film that a contemporary pre-teen audience will enjoy. No parents, ParaNorman is not too scary for your kids… just a little bit of scary…
ParaNorman starts off with a really bad B-movie horror flick being show on TV; where a young woman is about to get her brains sucked out by a zombie. BOOM! Straight away we are thrust into a horror-like animation that will freak its pubescent audience out for weeks. Similar to Coraline, these horror-esque elements keep on coming; with scenes showing zombies rising from their graves – to a possessed child spirit. Each horror element will have the adults rethinking why they brought their kids to see the film, while the kids will be squealing with fear and rebellious excitement.
Along with the horror moments comes a whole lot of immature comedy, mostly at the hands of Norman’s fat best mate; Neil (Albrizzi) and his very camp older brother Mitch (Casey Affleck). The comedy reminds the audience that this is in fact a child’s film even though it is bubble-wrapped in a horror overcoat. Albrizzi’s un-phased Neil outshines dull faced Norman with hilarious lines such as “Don’t make me throw this hummus… its spicy” and scenes showing him casually playing fetch with his dead dog; which caused a whole lot of laughs from the audience. However, Kodi Smit-McPhee’s Norman comes through for us at the end of the film by saving the day… naturally; adding an awesome opposition in characters.
ParaNorman is a perfect horror film for kiddies, however, the pacing of the film was questionable at times and left the film feeling slow to begin with. For example the first part of the film focused too much on character development and not enough on action and then all of a sudden as the action starting flowing; the character development went out of the window. Towards the end of the film everything was about aesthetics and horror, which is great for a kid audience but not for people who were expecting a decent balanced story.
However, saying that ParaNorman is beautifully animated, full of tongue-in cheek horror and comedic gags and visually awesome. It is definitely something to be witnessed!