Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Published August 26th 2012
Fans of Coraline will be well pleased to find that the morbid youngster now has a kindred cinematic spirit in ParaNorman - a horror geek, social misfit drawn from the same computer generated stop animation outfit that spawned the 2009 gem.
Norman also has quite a bit in common with Haley Joel Osment's character in The Sixth Sense. He too sees dead people, and like his live action counterpart, he's a well-meaning lad who only wants to help his ghoulish friends find peace of mind. Not an easy task considering the town is riddled with such ectoplasmic beings.
The first half of ParaNorman is chockers with clever horror films references and visual and verbal gags. Then there's the detailed production design. Norman himself is clearly modelled on Eddie Munster with his thick, expressive, dark brows, pasty skin and constant look of inward concern. He and the rest of the animated characters benefit so much from the advances in technology which have allowed an exponential increase in facial expressions.
Norman's inevitable showdown with the evil forces at play creates an unfortunate impediment to the flow of ideas and humour. As a consequence, the second half isn't anywhere near as satisfying as the first. It's a fair stab at creating an animated equivalent of a dark horror/coming of age story, but the balance of genre smarts and dramatic impact doesn't quite go the distance.