The Nightmare Before Christmas Review

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Bored with his lot Jack Skellington, the pumpkin king of Halloween Town, decides to take over Christmas Town, kidnapping Santa Claus and giving Xmas a Halloweeny make-over.


Everything we have come expect from the variable Goth-hued imagination of Tim Burton as presented in stop-motion form: thus it squeals with visual delight, strewn with loveable-morbid creations, ornate Danny Elfman compositions and has a story that runs out of juice halfway through. We are lazily encouraged to just sit back and soak up the rickety gleam of its grotesquery of inspiration — dashing Jack himself is a xylophone-boned, pin-stripped lounge singer-type, his dog, Zero, has a ghostly glowing nose, while his great love Sally is a rag doll who can wilfully unthread limbs — and ignore the deficiencies in its storytelling.

It’s the schizophrenia of Burton, although the main duties of directing slow-slow process of stop-animation went to Henry Sellick, he’s less a Brother Grimm than an Edward Munch. Energy and art abound everywhere, especially in the glorious whirligigging dance scenes, except in the momentum of tale-telling. The characters are cool but limited, just more Gothic filaments for this black gown knitted for kiddiewinks with death obsessions. There’s plenty of smart referencing: German expressionism to Cure videos, but it lacks the warmth, and social detail of Nick Park’s Claymation. Park’s worlds are reflections of reality, Burton/Sellick’s is a lawless sprawl of dreams.

All gothicky, christmassy, romantic and Burtonesque. Worth a look.