Cinepub


31 Days Of Horror 15: ParaNorman (2012) by Jamie

So it seems as though I’m still on my nice little animated break from the blood, guts and gore of your more traditional horror fare but this one at least has something more Halloweeny about it than Monsters University what with it’s Zombies and ghosts and witches and such.

ParaNorman is the tale of a young boy named Norman who is obsessed with zombie movie and, it just so happens, can see and speak to the spirits of the dead. He lives in a town that’s only claim to fame is a witch trial some three hundred years prior. The witch it seems placed a curse on those who tried her that would mean that they would rise from their graves, doomed to have their souls trapped in undead bodies for all eternity. Norman comes to learn that this legend actually has a basis in fact and, due to his special ability, it will soon be his responsibility to see that the curse goes unfulfilled for another year. Will he succeed or will the accursed undead rise from their rest?

Well, I should think the answer to that is pretty obvious or else there wouldn’t be a movie. and a movie there is. A rather enjoyable movie as it turns out and one that I’m happy to see doesn’t feel the need to talk down to kids. It’s a movie that realises that you don’t have to talk down to kids. You can make jokes about sex and violence because kids are already making the same jokes on the playground. One character whilst getting Norman to keep a promise by asking him to swear to which Norman responds “You mean like the F word?” These are the kinds of jokes that I can appreciate. Jokes that remind me of my childhood when I heard kids say shit in The Goonies or Elliot call his brother penis-breath in E.T. It’s stuff kids don’t need to be sheltered from because they already know it. It’s honest.

There’s also a pretty good message at the heart of this film, the message of acceptance. Yes, that you should always be accepting of others no matter your own prejudices or fears but also acceptance of the fact that some people just won’t like you, they’ll be dicks to you but that doesn’t give you an excuse to be a dick back.

All in all this was a pretty funny and thoroughly enjoyable film. If I have a complaint it’s that it kinda lags a touch in the middle where the talking to ghosts conceit seems to be all but abandoned for a while but it makes up for it with a pretty strong beginning and ending, some nice horror references to things like Halloween and Friday the 13th and by being one of the best looking stop-motion films I’ve ever seen. Three and a half pints out of five. Laterz.

ParaNorman_poster

Advertisements


Review: The Road by Jamie

I don’t think it’s any secret that I love post-apocalyptic films. Hell, I even made a list of my own personal top ten of the genre (Part one and part two). So I was understandably looking forward to finally getting around to seeing ‘The Road’ based on the novel of the same name by Cormac McCarthy. Now I haven’t read the novel so this review is going to be completely from the point of view of someone who only knows the material from the film. Those who’ve read the book may have differing opinions.

The film basically tells the story of a world completely broken by some kind of unspecified disaster. I’m going to guess massive nuclear war although the effects seen in the film could have equally been caused by a massive comet impact. Sure, many would say it’s not important, the disaster isn’t the point of the film. I just like to know what kind of post-apocalyptic hellscape we’re dealing with here. The nuclear scenario has problems that are unique to it such as radiation poisoning that the comet scenario probably wouldn’t have. Alright, I suppose it’s not important.

Anyway from the ashes of this devastated Earth comes a man (Viggo Mortensen) and his son (Kodi Smit-McPhee). They are travelling to an unspecified location… There’s a lot in this film that’s unspecified even the characters names. That’s fine I suppose although I’m sure it works better in a book, It can be a trifle hard to relate to a character that is unnamed in a film. It makes the characters seem detached from any reality you can recognise, which I suppose is fair enough for a film like this. It kinda becomes a non-issue as the film progresses.

That’s pretty much the plot summed up actually, just the tale of a man and his son on a journey. It’s what happens along that journey that’s important as the two of them try and eke out a survival in this desolate wasteland whilst trying to preserve what is left of their humanity. This isn’t an easy thing to do in a world where it seems as though most other people have resorted to cannibalism, humans being one of the last viable food sources left.

Perhaps the most impressive part of this film is the way it looks. There are a few flash back scenes to a time before the apocalypse event and these are appropriately bright, colourful and somewhat cheerful but it’s the post-apocalypse world that really steals the show. It’s truly a bleakly beautiful vision of a land completely ravaged by disaster. Everything is muted, each colour having an appropriate tinge of grey. There’s one scene in particular that stood out where the characters are walking down a road lined with broken, leaning telegraph poles, each one a mess of tangled, hanging wires, black against a constantly grey sky. It’s grim, yet strangely there is beauty in it and it’s one of the most convincing portrayals of a post-apocalyptic world that I’ve seen since Threads… Oh god, why must I be reminded of Threads…

What really sells this film, besides it’s look, are the performances. Mortensen and Smit-McPhee both play their roles well though the film isn’t particularly dialogue heavy. Still you get a sense that the man loves his son very much, believing his survival to be important above all other things including his own. You also get the sense that his love for his son is the very thing which is starting to lead him astray from his humanity, becoming more vicious and paranoid as the film goes on. It’s also clear that it’s the innocence of a child that his son brings to his life that keeps him from going all the way into barbarism. Smit-McPhee plays the part of a child born after the apocalyptic event very well, seeming fascinated with anything that his father finds from the former world including such things as a can of coke and a tin of peaches. Having said that his performance does seem to get a little cheesy and mildly annoying towards the end of the film, particularly in the scenes of him and his father at the beach but it’s still not bad enough to detract from the enjoyment of the film. I mean he’s certainly no Jake Lloyd in The Phantom Menace.

Gah!

I refuse to accept you grew up to be Darth Vader…

Charlize Theron also shows up a few times, appearing in flash backs as the boy’s mother. She does well as a woman who simply isn’t content with surviving as her husband is. Unfortunately saying anymore would be entering spoiler territory.

Overall there’s not much more I can really say about the film without giving away much of what happens. I’ll just say there are more than a few stand out scenes, a particular favourite of mine involving a basement which seems to be used as a kind of farm. It’s awesome. I’ll also say that the ending did make my eyes water a little though not really cry as such. Then again I tend to get far more emotionally involved with films than I do real life so maybe that’s just me. All that’s left to say is that it’s a bloody good watch and more than deserving of your time. 4.5 Pints out of 5.




%d bloggers like this: