Film Review : Paranorman
● By Justin Buettner
Norman, a boy who has the ability to see and speak to ghosts, begins seeing bad omens. His crazy uncle, who shares Norman's power of seeing the dead, tells the boy that they are the guardians of the town. They use their powers to keep a witch's curse from bringing seven founding members of the town back to life as the living dead. Unable to read the counter curse in time zombies invade Norman's town and he is the only person who can stop the invasion before it gets worse but can he save the town in time?
This movie is a strange mix. It is definitely too dark for a younger audience but probably a bit too tame for the zombie fans that would really fall in love with this movie. Paranorman reminded me of last year's Super 8, in the fact it felt like a throwback to 80's movies. In fact if they shot the film live action it would have been a great kid's monster movie in the mold of The Monster Squad or Ghostbusters. People that were a bit of an outcast during their school years will definitely identify with this movie.
The stop motion animation that is employed by this movie is a great looking medium. The unique quality to this technique makes stop motion films have a tone and visual flair unlike any other style of animation. That being said I felt Paranorman would have benefitted being shot live action because the group of kids would have been easier to identify with. Nothing happened in Paranorman that could not have been done in live action.
Despite my belief it was shot in the wrong medium, Paranorman is still a very good movie. It is easy to see the filmmakers could relate to this material as they nailed the tone and got a lot right. This includes the B-movie tribute that opens the movie, which was just spot on. The affinity the story has for zombies and the genre is easy to see. The filmmakers also demonstrate a lot of compassion for the outcasts and openly make fun of the "normal" people in the story. This movie was made by outcasts for outcasts without a doubt.
The story is packed with fun and appropriate plot twists. The pace is good and they have a great mix of comedy, action, and heartfelt moments. This is easily the best zombie comedy since Shaun of the Dead. People who love zombie movies may miss the scare factor, but they will enjoy all the zombie movie references of which there are plenty. This film was made by the same team that made Caroline a few years ago. If you are a fan of zombie movies or have kids that are not afraid of things that go bump in the night then Paranorman is a fun movie you will enjoy.
Films like Paranorman : Caroline, Nightmare Before Christmas, and Frakenweenie
Justin Buettner is Style's resident movie dude! How did he get this role? Well, he graduated from Loyola Marymount University with a Bachelor of Arts in film Production and a duel minor in Animation and Business with an emphasis in the entertainment field. He later went on to work on several independent films in various key roles including writer and later worked in the special effects field as a motion capture artist. He has since relocated to the Sacramento area with his family and continues writing for small independent films in addition to his movie reviews for Style Magazine.