THE king of kooky, Tim Burton, could have some fierce competition.
He comes in the form of Chris Butler, the writer and co-director of animated spook-fest ParaNorman, the first stop-motion film ever to use a 3D colour printer to create character faces and only the second stop-motion film shot in 3D (the first was Burton’s 2009 fairytale nightmare Coraline).
It is hardly surprising, then, to learn that Butler cut his teeth in the art department under Burton’s tutelage, having worked on 2005’s Corpse Bride as storyboard artist and Coraline as storyboard supervisor.
While Burton’s recent release Frankenweenie was shot in monochrome, ParaNorman, co-directed by Flushed Away and The Tale of Despereaux director Sam Fell, is a colourful visual feast designed to pop on the big screen.
Set in the town of Blithe Hollow, the tale centres on Norman Babcock (voiced by Aussie Kodi Smit-McPhee, Romulus My Father, The Road), whose ability to see dead people leads to his ostracism among schoolmates, neighbours and even family members.
The only person who believes his gift to be real is chubby new best friend Neil (Tucker Albrizzi).
When Norman’s drunken and estranged uncle, Mr Prenderghast, (John Goodman) instructs him to take up a ritual to protect the town from a centuries-old witch’s curse, Norman’s disbelieving sister Courtney (Anna Kendrick) and Neil’s brother Mitch (Casey Affleck) join the two boys on a hellish mission to save the town, while learning the disturbing truth of the curse.
With clever referencing to the likes of Paranormal Activity, The Sixth Sense and Dawn of the Dead, ParaNorman is a fun-filled 90-minute jaunt for any zombie cinema lover.
It also has a strong social conscience, condemning bullying and embracing difference (Neil is chubby, Mitch is gay and they are all hailed heroes in the end).
While coming with a PG-rating, this reviewer would issue a strong cautionary warning to any parent of a child under the age of 10.
Directed by: Chris Butler, Sam Fell
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Casey Affleck
Screening: from January 10
Reviewed by: Emilia Vranjes