Paranorman is the second stop-motion animation film from LAIKA, the creators of 2009’s critically-acclaimed Coraline. Featuring the voice talents of John Goodman, Jeff Garlin, Leslie Mann and Casey Affleck, among others, Paranorman is the story of Norman, a zombie-obsessed social outcast who can communicate with spirits. This ability is, ironically, worthy of condemnation in a Salem-esque town steeped in supernatural lore; the town’s monument is a creepy old witch, sentenced to die 300 years before. On the anniversary of her death, Norman is plagued by visions of a Puritan-led witch-hunt. He is also visited by his hermit uncle, Mr. Prenderghast, who reveals that he too can see ghosts and passes along the familial responsibility to keep the witch’s spirit and curse at bay. If Norman does not read a bedtime story to her grave before sunset, the dead will rise… which they eventually do. In the ensuing chaos, Norman, with the help of some unlikely allies, races to restore peace and discovers that he and the witch are not so different as previously thought. This revelation will ultimately cement his status as the town’s hero.

Included with the Blu-Ray version of Paranorman are DVD, digital and ultraviolet copies, as well as short documentaries on the making of the film. The film’s many successes – its atmospheric quality, the impressive set design and puppetry, the characters’ plausibility – are detailed in the many extras, such as commentary with directors Chris Butler and Sam Fell; “Preliminary Animatic Sequences,” which feature scene sketches; “7 Featurettes On The Making of Paranorman,” an in-depth look into LAIKA’s animators; and “Peering Through the Veil: Go Behind The Scenes To See How This Stunning Stop-Motion Animation Was Created,” which, among other aspects, explores new 3D technology used to produce thousands of characters’ facial expressions. Viewers will gain a newfound appreciation for the rigorous work animators must complete. Their dedication to stop-motion animation is admirable and certainly shows in Paranorman.

The content may frighten younger children, but braver and older viewers will enjoy the thrills, chills, and life lessons Paranorman has to offer.

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