Stop-motion animation has long been used to tell strange and often bizarre supernatural stories (see: any one that involves Tim Burton) – and with good reason. It allows filmmakers to create characters and worlds that are somewhat exaggerated versions of reality which in turn makes the appearance of unusual creatures feel all the more organic within their (often peculiar) stylized surroundings.

Enter ParaNorman – a new stop-motion project that, judging by the films’ teaser trailer, could be as entertainingly off-beat as the works of Burton and/or director Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas, Coraline).

This early ParaNorman theatrical preview plays up its connection to Coraline, since both were produced by the animation studio LAIKA. However, the former was actually co-direced by Sam Fell (Flushed Away) and Chris Butler, a first-time co-helmer and former storyboard supervisor who worked on Disney’s direct-to-DVD Tarzan II before he moved onto bigger and better films like Corpse Bride and Coraline.

Chances are good that there’s still a good chunk of post-production work to be done on ParaNorman, which would explain why this early theatrical preview has very little synchronous sound – and (appropriately) primarily features Donovan’s “Season of the Witch” as an audio accompaniment. Nonetheless… this looks like an enjoyably quirky and demented family-friendly monster story.

Watch the ParaNorman teaser trailer below and see what we mean:

ParaNorman tells the tale of young Norman, a young boy with heavy eyelids and the ability to communicate with the dead. That proves to be quite helpful when his hometown is besieged by (according to the film’s official synopsis) “zombies, ghosts, witches and, worst of all, grown-ups, [forcing Norman] to save his town from a centuries-old curse.”

There’s a lot of cool and creepy imagery shown here, including an insect swarm bursting out of a teddy bear’s mouth, possessed toilet paper forming itself into grasping hands, and a variety of fantastical creatures terrorizing the residents of Norman’s neighborhood. None of it is shown in context here, of course, but that just makes it all the more tantalizing of a tease.

Lastly, ParaNorman boasts a pretty solid voice actor cast, including Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road, Let Me In) as Norman, along with Casey Affleck, Anna Kendrick, Christopher Mintz-Plasse, Leslie Mann, Jeff Garlin, John Goodman, and Bernard Hill. Most of those folk are known for having fairly expressive and… well, animated voices, which generally benefits these sort of movies.

With that said – check out the ParaNorman poster below:

ParaNorman arrives in theaters around the U.S. on August 17th, 2012.

Source: Yahoo! Movies