Blithe Hollow is a town that is oddly proud of its rich, witch-burning history, so much so that it's the town's primary tourist attraction, with witch-based casinos and restaurants aplenty. But when Norman (Kodi Smit-McPhee) claims to be able to see and speak to dead people, the townsfolk quickly brand him a loony, deciding not to believe a word he has to say about an impending magical storm. Said storm will not only bring the dead back to life, but also resurrect a witch with a vendetta against the descendants of those who burnt her at the stake all those centuries ago…
f this all sounds a bit dark for a kids movie, that’s because it is. While the film never gets too scary, it does get quite intense at times, perhaps too intense for the more sensitive of kiddie viewers. Made by LAIKA, who were also the folk behind the brilliant Coraline, and who are to stop-motion what Pixar are to computer animation, Paranorman is never less than beautiful to behold. There are some wonderfully imaginative scenes, and some fantastic references to The Sixth Sense, Friday The 13th, Silent Hill and countless other zombie movies. It’s just a shame that the story they’re tacked on to is so by-the-numbers.
The impressive, if not exactly A-list voice cast do their best with the clichéd checklist of movie characters, from the blonde-haired bimbo (Anna Kendrick) to the dumb jock (Casey Affleck) to the mean bully (Christopher Mintz-Plasse) to the confused-but-concerned mother (Leslie Mann), every last one is present and correct, with not a single surprise in store. The same goes for the plot itself, with only a few good laughs to be found along the way. There are a few gags thrown in for the parents, but mostly the entire thing flies by, happy to impress on visuals alone. All in all, Paranorman is a harmless way to keep the kids preoccupied for an hour and a half, but it pales in comparison with some of the better Horror-For-Kids movies among which Monster House, A Nightmare Before Christmas or even the aforementioned Coraline are included.