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He Talks to the Dead

Title card for Chris Butler and Sam Fell’s movie.

Sarah Brescia

“Uuuuunnngg” describes the sound most humans would hear if they happened to be near a zombie.  But not eleven-year-old Norman Babcock, the title character of “ParaNorman,” a special little boy (voiced by Kodi Smit-McPhee) with the ability to talk to the dead.  Despite his gift, he is cruelly bullied at school, and ignored at home.

The plot thickens, however, when crazy Uncle Penderghast (John Goodman) comes for a visit.  His uncle can talk to ghosts as well, and he tells Norman that he must read a book to a witch, who cursed the town many years ago.  Things do not go according to plan, though, and the whole town becomes threatened by an angry witch and hoard of zombies.  It’s all up to Norman, his friends and family, to thwart the spell.

Spells did not make the movie, however—some of the newest stop-motion technology on the market did.  Directors Chris Butler and Sam Fell used a mixture of stop-motion and CGI.  They push the limits with their appealing camera angles, new technology and colorful design to make the zombies really come to life.  And while “ParaNorman” may seem to be just about zombies and ghouls, but the message goes much deeper than that.  This movie challenges audiences to question what normal actually is, and how people who seem different are treated.  It also asks those who are not accepted to look at how they treat the people who do not accept them.  Tough questions—but “ParaNorman” is still a funny, entertaining movie.  Whether the viewer is 12 or 300, its message is still worth listening to.  Just watch out for the zombies!


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