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Paranorman: Movie Review

By Darren Bevan

Published: 10:51AM Wednesday January 16, 2013

Rating:

Cast: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Casey Affleck, John Goodman, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin
Director: Chris Butler

He sees dead people - everywhere.

We've been here before, haven't we?

In  this stop motion animated film, Norman (Smit-McPhee) is an outsider in his home town of Blithe Hollow; a zombie lover, bullied by his classmates and mocked by his family for claims he can see the dead, he's an odd solitary figure in the world.

But one day, Norman finds a friend in fellow bully victim and fat kid, Neil (Tucker Albrizzi). Which is a good thing because shortly after that, Norman's eccentric uncle tells him that he holds the key to saving the day and must perform an annual ritual to stop the dead from rising due to a curse laid down by a witch centuries ago.

However, when the ritual doesn't go to plan, Norman has to convince everyone that his zombie obsession is real and that if they don't help him, it could be game over for Blithe Hollow...

Paranorman  is a macabre animated treat which makes the best of a slightly lacking story by throwing in some truly undead animation. Purples and vibrant yellows pack out the screen towards the end and give a suitably spooky glow to the proceedings which get a little dark and frightening towards the end.

With hints of   The Crucible  and a tragic story of sadness, it's certainly enough to stand out from the usual animated fare but also wise enough to throw in a few great sight gags here and there. From the mocking of Norman's zombie obsession to the mafiosa ghost haunting the streets with his feet encased in concrete, this is a film which is reverential and respectful of the genres which have inspired it. Even the heroes of the piece, the jock, the cheerleader, the nerd, the fat kid and the bully are stock stereotypes from the splatter films of yore, but by putting a fresh spin on them, Paranorman  doesn't rely on cheap gags and simplistic shocks as the dialled down story plays out. A great sight gag involving a certain hockey mask is cleverly executed as this skewed Grimm fairy tale rolls on.

Paranorman  is a little something different for the animated holiday fare - it should have been released nearer Hallowe'en as it has that creepy feel - but at its heart, it's a sad story which just may touch you in ways you hadn't quite been expecting.