Directed by: Chris Butler, Sam Fell
Starring: Kodi Smit-McPhee, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse
I’m not really sure what to think about this movie. Part of me wants to chide it for having such wildly opposite attitudes at different points in the story, and another part of me wants to praise it for the surprisingly deep and adult themes you wouldn’t normally expect out of a movie that is supposed to be a family film. I guess I’ll just have to do both and stay confused.
Norman is a weird kid who can see and talk to ghosts, and he’s bullied for it by his classmates and basically disowned for it by his dad. That all changes once it turns out that only he can stop the ghost of an ancient witch who’s placed a curse on the town to bring back the living dead!! …except that the zombies aren’t actually that bad and are actually more victimized and are immediately attacked by the blood-frenzied villagers, so Norman and his Goonies-esque group of friends must save them from the witch too, who is actually just a little girl with the same powers as Norman who got pushed too far.
There are some parts in this film which are really not appropriate for children, like Norman’s dad and how he’s viciously cruel in a psychological way to his kid in the very real way which happens and not the cartoony way that is used to advance the plot in kids movies. And then, five minutes after that, you’ll have a wacky zombie being thrown off a car by the windshield wipers in a ridiculously cartoony way that has no business being in a movie for adults. So what the fuck is this movie trying to do? I feel like it was trying to capture the feel of an old Tim Burton movie, like Edward Scissorhands, except instead of capturing Burton’s great balance between heavy seriousness and lighthearted comedy, they went WAY overboard on both ends. Basically, just as you’re able to get into the movie being one way, it shoots the other and you have to recalibrate the way you’re watching it, because you don’t watch a goofy kids movie the same way you watch a serious drama about childhood trauma, unless you’re a sociopath, I guess.
But the claymation was good.