Chris Butler And Sam Fell’s Terrifying And Brilliant Animated Film, ‘Paranorman’ (2012) – Retro Review

Through the decades, we have been given all different kinds of ghost stories transformed into films. Some are great and some are, well… not so great. But even the mediocre ones have something admirable about them, whether it be the cinematography, the acting, or just the overall passion of the writers and directors. And then there’s Chris Butler And Sam Fell’s animated ghost story, Paranorman (2012), which released ten years ago on August 5, 2012. I know many people who feel the same way about this wonderful film, a tragic ghost story with a special little twist that is quite heartbreaking in its own way.

Paranorman is a stop motion animated film released by Laika Animation Studios on August 17, 2012. It was nominated for 46 Academy Awards and 19 other nominations such as EDA Award and the Golden Globe for best animated feature. Both fans and critics have been drawn on the usual question of whether this film is good or not. Personally, I find Paranorman absolutely brilliant and also a little disturbing. It is because of that that I chose to write this article. Paranorman isn’t just your run of the mill ghost story and, due to the tragic element of the film, it is a prime example of what fear can truly do to a community with fanatical religious beliefs.

Paranorman opens in a small town of Blythe Hollow, which we soon come to understand has a very dark history. We meet Norman Babcock, a young boy who is just like any other kid… that is, if every other kid loves zombies and horror films. But that isn’t the only unique thing about him, Norman has another secret that he chooses to not talk about. He can see and communicate with ghosts as if they were any other person. Right from the beginning, we get the impression that this is a cause of grief and loneliness for him. After all, it would be hard to connect with the living when you relate more to the ghosts you see around you.

The story eventually leads us to one of the most disturbing, sad, yet enlightening situations I have seen in a film. The town’s dark history has caused a curse that is laid to rest by one of Norman’s estranged family members who happens to have the same gift he does. Due to unfortunate circumstances, Norman suddenly has the immense task of laying this curse to rest for another year, with only a bedtime story in his hand to guide him. Curious?

Not everything is what we think, especially when we find out that the person who caused the curse was nothing but a innocent child, another relative of Norman’s from long, long ago who was accused of witchcraft for conversing with ghosts. Due to fear and inability to comprehend that she wasn’t evil but special, they kill her and bury her body in a place away from consecrated ground. That results in a curse.

The most heartbreaking part is when we get to see this child, Agatha Prendergast, and what it has done to her soul and spirit. As a mother, my heart broke immediately. I related to Agatha and the helplessness of her situation. I felt terrible for the townspeople because they didn’t know any better, and they had to reap what they sowed. Through it all, we see the tortured soul of a child who had no choice, no say, and absolutely no other option. Paranorman is a dark story for a children’s movie, but it is done beautifully, and the heartbreaking moments are done so well with the animation and the colors and score. This movie is a prime reminder of a time we don’t want or need to go back to. It’s also a reminder that being different is nothing to be embarrassed about, because it could one day save someone, living or dead.

About HorrorVision

I am a 35 old avid horror fan with a passion for writing and old movies. I love discussing and viewing movies old and new, everything horror fascinates me its a wonderful work of art that is underestimated by many.

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