ParaNorman (2012) is a stop motion film about a young boy with the ability to talk to dead people. ParaNorman works as a film in two respects, as a children’s movie and as an introduction to the horror genre.
Now, a lot of people hear “children’s movie” and immediately see that as a negative. I disagree. The best kids movies are the ones that are appropriate for children but still enjoyable to adults. ParaNorman is one of those movies. There is no graphic language, making it appropriate for kids, and not full of fart jokes, making it also enjoyable for most adults. I suppose I would compare it to such movies as The Lego Movie where its obviously for kids but the humor is very cleverly written that both kids and adults would be laughing along for the whole movie. But, beyond succeeding as a movie for kids, it succeeds as being a horror movie.
Believe it or not, this movie is pretty successful as a horror movie. It works as a nice introduction to the genre for kids, or adults who get scared easily. Its not scary per say. But it is spooky. With the stop motion animation, I often found myself wondering if I should be creeped out by some of the visuals or amazed and impressed at how great it looked. Beyond that, ParaNorman is about something. Good horror movies are always about something. Jaws is about the power of nature and the greed of man. The original Godzilla was a message about the dangers of nuclear annihilation. The Thing is about the red scare. The list goes on and on. The most popular horror movies are about something more than the horror on the surface. ParaNorman is no different. The greater message of the movie is about the dangers of mob mentality. For starters, the entire town hates the main character Norman, mainly because everyone else hates him. Mob mentality turns an entire town against a kid and in the climax of the film almost drives the mob to kill him. Additionally, the main villain is an angry spirit who died during a Salem Witch trial like event, which is one of histories most famous examples of mob mentality. For risks of spoiling what is a great movie, I won’t say more. But, I hope you are able to see what makes this movie succeed as a horror film.
I know Halloween is long past, but still. ParaNorman is streaming right now on Netflix. I can not recommend it enough.