We’ve come to the end of the Kid Horror week and also the end of theme weeks with just Halloween left to go, which is dealer’s choice on what I want to watch. I remember vaguely hearing some good things about this movie when it came out but it came and went without seeming like something I needed to see. I didn’t realize this was a Laika joint, though, and I do very much enjoy the other movies from that studio that I’ve seen.
The town of Blithe Hollow, Massachusetts is one where the atrocity of killing women as witches 300 years ago has been turned into kitschy witch themed restaurants and souvenir shops. That is where our main character, Norman, goes about his life trying to have as little interaction with people as possible. Well, living people that is. You see, Norman can see and talk to ghosts. While great for staying in touch with his dead Grandma, it is less useful for making friends at school. However, when the witch’s curse turns out to be true and the living dead begin to shamble into town; Norman is the only one that can put an end to the horror unleashed upon the town.
Stylistically, I didn’t really like this as much as the other Laika movies. While excellently done stop motion is still great to watch, the actual look of the characters didn’t gel with me. That’s just a personal preference and not a knock on the movie but it looked a little Wallace & Gromit-y to me. One of the biggest pluses for me in this movie is that the main character has a fat friend but instead of it being that he is stupid and useless and the butt of jokes; he is instead shown to be kind, understanding, and forgiving of those that bully him. He’s just a real nice kid that goes out of his way to befriend the weird kid that nobody else likes. Thanks, movie, for not doing the shitty trope. This has been Fat Kid Sidekick Watch.
While the standard theme of accepting yourself and being ok with being weird is here like in any other kids media about a child with special powers; the film actually revolves around bullying and the cycle of violence. Those that get persecuted become broken and angry and then lash out at others when they have the power to do so. It’s so easy to be swayed by those around you into a mob mentality whenever something is different and easily singled out. I like that the film doesn’t just have a message of forgive those that do wrong to you but instead that you need to let your own anger go. Some things are unforgivable but taking the pain from that and inflicting it on others turns you into the same kind of monster that they were.
Another perfectly good, kid friendly horror themed movie that is also fun enough to keep the adults entertained. Not as good as Coraline, the other Laika kid horror film, but that is an extremely high bar to get over. Maybe have a double feature with that and this one.
Score: 4 out of 5