Zombies are everywhere these days: shambling around in movies, TV shows, comics... hell, even your local shopping centre, thanks to the joys of zombie flashmobs. But while this is great for anyone over 18, there hasn’t really been much laid on zombie-wise for kids – unsurprisingly, given society’s preference for keeping rotting corpses out of the sight of our sprogs.
ParaNorman seeks to change this, writer/co-director Chris Butler whipping up a story focused on a zombie invasion that will have kids shrieking in delighted terror.
The pun-tastic title ParaNorman is a reference to the fact that its star, Norman – voiced by The Road ’s Kodi Smit-McPhee – can see dead people. Rather unwisely, he doesn’t keep this fact to himself and thus becomes a disappointment to his grumpy dad, a target for bullies and a total embarrassment to his self-obsessed sister Courtney (Anna Kendrick).
Thankfully, Norman soon gets the chance to show up his critics when he finds he’s responsible for keeping a curse at bay which threatens to destroy his small New England town. While Norman and his co-stars are amusing enough – and the zombies themselves are a whole lot of ghoulish fun – there’s something about ParaNorman that doesn’t quite fire on all thrusters.
The stop-motion animation is flawless (as it should be, coming from Laika, the animation studio that made Coraline ), but at times you wish the plot would stop focusing on Norman feeling glum, bullied and ostracised and actually go somewhere.
There are some fiendishly funny moments that prove the art of slapstick works just as well in this form as it does in live-action, but many jokes are sadly more miss than hit.
Still, children will be grossed out, freaked out and possibly given nightmares… which makes this the film to boast about having been to see in playgrounds throughout the land.
What more could kids want?
Gorgeous animation and inspired set design help patch over a lacklustre script. The horror hardcore will enjoy playing spot the homage.