Okay, here we go – I’ve talked a little about my love for stop-motion before and in doing so touched on the subject of Corpse Bride & Coraline and how they pushed boundaries with the art form. Well, Paranorman is written and co-directed by Chris Butler who worked on both of those films (among others). With him in the directors’ chair is Sam Fell whose work on the wonderfully surreal Aardman (Wallace & Gromit, Creature Comforts) animation that is Rex The Runt primed me for the expectation that I was going to enjoy this film – I just didn’t realise how much.
In terms of visuals, Paranorman is something else. If you have the ability to see it in 3D I’d say that’s the way to go but 2D is still an incredible experience. There’s more than a touch of CG-enhanced effects but the set pieces and performances the animators have given the models are what make this the experience that it is.The story follows Norman, a bit of an outcast who has the ability to talk to and see ghosts. He doesn’t mind but everyone else does – his family and classmates put it down to an overactive imagination, attention-seeking or just being a bit of a freak.
Norman’s hometown of Blithe Hollow is one of those North American early settlement ones rich with a macabre history. The event that puts it on the map is witch trials and the legend of one such witch that was caught done away with. Upon her death a curse was put on the town but all that’s just superstition. …or is it?
Being the weirdo Norman is; he attracts the attention of another in the form of the town bum (played perfectly by John Goodman) who’s crazy, creepy and slightly hermetic. He has important information for Norman that will determine the fate of the townsfolk but dies before he gets the chance to tell him. Now, if it were anyone else it would be too late but the bum is able to approach Norman after death and tell him the deal with the witch and the curse and what he must do to save everyone.
I’m slightly biased but this is just about the best movie I’ve seen this year, and it even has zombies.