"Normal," for Norman, doesn't really exist. But one day, an ominous message prompts him to take action to save his family (and his town) from forces beyond the grave.
In ParaNorman, Blithe Hollow's three-century-year-old curse involving a girl burned at the stake comes to fruition, and it's up to the local "freak" to figure things out before chaos envelopes the town.
ParaNorman, directed by Sam Fell and Chris Butler, is a zombie comedy. The animated film is the sophomore production of Oregon, U.S.-based LAIKA, whose spooky debut project Coraline (2009) might still conjure a friendly nightmare or two after some thought.
ParaNorman, for its part, fleshes out a more comical anecdote on growing up, dealing with familial differences, and understanding how the most fundamental of human virtues are formed. The film kicks things off when Norman's crazy uncle Prenderghast, recently deceased and a ghost himself, informs the boy that a calamity is approaching. That whole "witch's curse" involving the girl at the stake? Yeah. She's still mad about it. And is going to raise the dead and stuff in an act of revenge.
Norman has what it takes to mitigate the presence of several zombies from surfacing and terrorizing the town. He also has what it takes to stand up to the nasty puppet masters that may guide these strange events. But whether one Norman Babcock will ally with those who have made fun of him in the past, and step up the challenge, remains to be seen.
The film's eventual commentary on weathering the misfortune of anger and hatred for the love and forgiveness at the end of the road is sufficiently buffeted by a bounty of comical weirdness. Angry teachers and bickering adults are one thing, but zombies losing their limbs and friendly ghosts that can hold a conversation are perennial favorites of the genre.
ParaNorman is a stop-action original that revels the integration of advanced rapid prototyping (3D printing) and a lived-in devotion to "shoot as much practically as possible" to manifest some quality results.