Review: Paranorman

Paranorman is a quirky, intense animation based around an outsider named Norman who has the ability to interact with ghosts, which obviously results in him being bullied at school and casts awkwardness between him and his family. Spectators are plunged into an intensely emotionally gripping bond with the young boy, feeling every inch of his sadness through the use of music and framing; we feel his desire to be accepted and listened to in order to protect the people he loves and even strangers from what is to come. When you look at the bigger picture, he is just a child and has been burdened with the idea of ‘saving his town’ from the impending waking zombies! This is a big deal for a young boy and I felt a real emotional bond with Norman which I hadn’t necessarily felt before with an animated character.

It may just appear to be a simple haunted animation from the advertising and trailer but it is surprisingly deep and dark considering the protagonist is just a child. The trailer I felt did the film no justice, it portrayed the film as a silly ‘scary’ animation which people would probably find more humorous than genuinely scary; but the film itself is like a rollercoaster of events that twist and turn your emotions in a way you wouldn’t expect to feel from an animation.

The term ‘animation’ to me usually makes me think of loveable characters, lots of colour and a happy ending with the constant warm feeling in your belly from all the soppiness that we love as children; this film throws my statement out of the water. Norman is nothing but loveable and there is a happy ending eventually, but the plot itself is so gripping and dark it almost felt like it shouldn’t be classified as a children’s film. After seeing Paranorman my idea of what to expect from the film was flipped on its side and it actually beat my expectations, as it wasn’t just a ‘silly horror story’ but actually a perfect blend of loveable characters and genuine fear.

From the makers of Coraline, you can see the similarities in the dark storyline and the child protagonist being presented with an ‘adult like’ responsibility that they must conquer. Certainly not a film for the younger generation to watch alone, even as a twenty year old I was still scared by certain aspects. Very thrilling and fantastically animated.

Stephanie Vivian

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