Last week I went to the cinema to see stop-motion comedy horror film ParaNorman. It turns out it’s pretty damn good. What follows are my thoughts on it!
It seems a strange concept having a family comedy horror film. I’m not sure anything like ParaNorman has ever been made before. I suppose the closest would be Scooby-Doo. In the film Norman has the sixth sense, he can see dead people. Everywhere he goes there’s ghosts and because of this he is seen as a weird little kid and is bullied horribly. But then Norman is called upon to try and prevent a witch’s curse which brings seven bodies back to life. Well in a zombie kind of way! What follows is a fantastic adventure where Norman and assorted friends try to battle the zombies and the witch.
Surprisingly, this film does have a strong message behind it. A message that is virtually impossible to share with you without giving the film away. But despite the seemingly scary concept there is a good moral coming from it. Not to mention the humour! Some of the scenes in the film had me in stiches. The town’s fat kid, Neil, is utterly hilarious with every line and the zombies themselves are pretty funny. There’s also quite a few clever jokes that most kids wouldn’t get but adults will chuckle at and not because they are adult, just because they are clever.
One thing I really have to talk about when reviewing this film is how amazing it looks. Laika, who are responsible for Coraline, are fantastic with their stop motion. It almost looks like its CGI, the stop-motion couldn’t be any more realistic in terms of movement. In terms of actual looks the characters are mostly quite life-like yet they have they are still obviously not real. It’s pretty hard to explain but Laika have made an effect that’s realistic enough to believe in yet is still cartoon-y enough for things like the zombies. There is a bit of CGI involved but it’s fairly minimal. This is the best-looking stop-motion film I’ve ever seen, without a doubt.
I suppose a question that you might want the answer to is how scary is it? That depends on who’s watching it. As an adult you’ll be fine, although there is the odd jumpy moment (my friend literally jumped out of her seat at one point). It’s rated a PG in the UK but I imagine the zombies would be pretty scary to young children. However, if the kids are old enough to understand the plot and stayed for the entire film they’d probably be fine afterwards because the story actually makes the scary bits less scary in the end. It’s difficult to explain but I’ve think I’ve done a reasonable job. I compared the film to Scooby-Doo earlier and I suppose it’s pretty much Scooby-Doo at its scariest.
All in all ParaNorman is a great film. It’s so different from the norm and I really can’t think of anything like it. Laika’s beautiful stop-motion makes it look amazing and good script and voice-acting creates lots of humour and a genuinely warm film. Norman starts as an outsider but becomes the most important person in the town but it’s also about everyone having their place and how humans ought to behave. And don’t take it from me, here’s what proper critics have been saying!
Total Film: Gorgeous animation and inspired set design help patch over a lacklustre script. The horror hardcore will enjoy playing spot the homage. 3 Stars.
The Guardian: It's an engaging entertainment, with a solidly constructed storyline. 3 Stars
The Daily Mail: …a weird and sometimes wonderful exercise in stop-motion animation. Horrific, but fun. 4 Stars
Den of Geek: ParaNorman’s undoubtedly worth seeing on a big screen, and it’s a fitting birthday present for Universal, the great grandaddy of Hollywood chillers. 4 Stars.
Cultbox; ParaNorman, like its main character, is mature, likeable, and has something to teach us all. Exciting and inspiring, funny and scary, unpredictable and honest, this is weird, brave film-making at its very best, the like of which we don’t see enough of in film at large. 5 Stars.
And I am giving the film 4 STARS. Loved it a lot!