Rating: 3 stars out of 5
Norman Babcock (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee) can see dead people, but no one other than his best friend Neil (Tucker Albrizzi) believes him. When his uncle warns him of a ritual to be performed to keep the dead in their graves, Norman takes heed, but things get ugly from there.
Soon a bunch of zombies are attacking Norman’s town and he’s the only one who can save it.
‘ParaNorman’ has a scarier concept than most animation movies dare to tackle, but upcoming animation studio Laika, which also made ‘Coraline’, has managed to make it pay off in this marvellous stop motion animation effort.
There’s a lot of beauty on hand in this film, and there’s gorgeous attention to detail, from the stuff in Norman’s room to the creepy woods. Even if some of the props and ideas look like they’ve been recycled from ‘Coraline’, which had a similar story about a child and strange happenings, the art department hasn’t skimped.
For the first hour, things go speedily along, and directors Chris Butler and Sam Fell pack together scares and humour. Norman learns that he has to take on the task of stopping the dead from walking the earth, though he’s not quite sure how.
Also read: Unforgettable stop-motion films
There are quite a few callouts to other horror genre flicks, including ‘Friday the 13th’ and ‘Night of the Living Dead’. Horror junkies will undoubtedly have a good time playing spot-the-references, which will probably fly over the head of younger kids.
Nonetheless, Norman is someone that you can root for. He’s a little bit odd, even without his abilities, but a good boy trying to make sense of the world and his family.
It’s the last third where the movie flounders. The blood and gore promised in the early running are forgotten, the breakneck pace slows and there’s a bit of moralising that almost becomes heavy handed. It’s like you’ve been hit at the end of a roller coaster ride with a message to keep your hands and legs in.
Other than that, ‘ParaNorman’ does offer plenty of thrills, if not too much chills. Some of the scenes might be a little too intense for young ones, but otherwise they should have a good enough time.