Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB. USA, 2012. Focus Features, Laika Entertainment. Screenplay by Chris Butler. Cinematography by Tristan Oliver. Produced by Travis Knight, Arianne Sutner. Music by Jon Brion. Production Design by Nelson Lowry. Costume Design by Deborah Cook. Film Editing by Christopher Murrie. Academy Awards 2012. Las Vegas Film Critics Awards 2012. National Board of Review Awards 2012. New York Film Critics Awards 2012. Phoenix Film Critics Awards 2012. Washington Film Critics Awards 2012.
It’s not easy being a kid, and when you’re the type who sees dead people it’s a little bit harder. At least that’s what we learn about young Norman, whose parents are frustrated whenever he tells them that his dead grandmother (voiced by Elaine Stritch) keeps him company while he watches zombie movies on television. Opportunity comes to proves his talent when the little New England in which the family lives celebrates the 200th anniversary of the killing of a witch whose curse resides upon the town since her demise. Imagine Norman’s surprise to meet ghouls emerging from the town cemetery who reveal the curse to be more than legend; he not only must save his community from the zombies and from the witch’s wrath, he also has to prove to his family and friends that he is not just a weirdo. As it turns out, humans are far more difficult to conquer than supernatural monsters in this marvelous animated film, a surprise delight that is inventive and spooky enough to draw in children and adults with its rich characters and highly imaginative animation. Directors Chris Butler and Sam Fell utilize stop-motion with so little visible computer-enhanced finesse that it feels like a revolution, with rich character detail and a moving finale a plus.