Coraline (2009)

Genre: Kids, Horror, Animation

Cast: Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French

Synopsis: After moving to a new home, Coraline discovers a passageway into strange world where everything is perfect but beneath all the fun and excitement is a dark and twisted core that Coraline must overcome to save her parents.

In a lot of ways Coraline is like the westernized horror version of Spirited Away. In fact, the stories are incredibly similar and both films deal with the same themes, namely maturity and overcoming sadness and selfishness by toughening up and facing problems head on. Although the two films are very similar in story and themes, the style and artistic direction could not be more different. The animation in Spirited Away is awe-inspiring, colorful, and lush whereas in Coraline it’s dark, brooding, and haunting. The overall feeling in Coraline is a sinister one and at times it feels like we’re watching some sort of bizarre twisted fucked-up Cirque Du Soleil shit…only without the gyrating crotches in the face.

You shouldn’t be surprised by the dark nature of this film though because it’s based on a story by Neil Gaiman. For those of you who are not familiar with Gaiman’s work, I suggest you read ‘American Gods’ which is a fascinating story about how immigrants who came to the US brought their own beliefs and Gods with them. Still, those of you with young children might want to watch it alone beforehand to see if it’s really age appropriate. In my mind, there is not much scarier than a Teri Hatcher spider demon chasing you along a metallic spider web. Also, scary ghost children with buttons sewn into their eyes feature prominently which is rather freaky.

Even though this is technically a film for kids, there is a lot for adults to enjoy and plenty for baked adults to enjoy. For instance, older fans of Dawn French and Jennifer Saunders will be delighted to see them lend their voices to the film as they play a pair of eccentric old ladies with a bunch of dead dogs. What’s funny about it is that they essentially swap roles with Dawn French voicing the Saunders-esque character and Jennifer voicing the plumper of the two characters. Also, there are some super trippy scenes such as the ones involving the light up garden and the mouse circus. The film is surprisingly accessible for both children and adults although the latter will probably understand the parents’ perspective.

All in all, Coraline is a good horror introduction to your kids and it teaches them valuable lessons about strength and independence. If you don’t have kids then all the more reason to watch this high. I hope someone out there actually does get the idea to turn this into a stage play or some sort of Cirque Du Soleil performance because that would be trippy as shit. I think I’d go and just be like Paul Rudd and Seth Rogan in Knocked Up. Please somebody do this. Do a kickstarter or something. I’m looking at you Zach Braff….or Melissa Joan Hart to an extent.

High-lights:

  • The musical garden scene! Oooh it’s so pretty and I want that praying mantis machine thingy.
  • For a young girl, Coraline is stylish as fuck. I want her blue boots but most of all I want her yellow raincoat and sailor hat! Tres chic.
  • Wyborne’s sassy black grandma. Everyone needs a sassy black maternal figure in their life.
  • Great lessons and beautiful animation.

Downers:

  • The tunnel between the real world and the other world is kind of vaginal I guess.

Summary:

Yet another film I adore that is aimed at children. I don’t know why I love kids’ films so much but I do. Coraline is a great choice for those who enjoy horror-lite. The film has a lot of offer: stunning animation, great characters, well thought story, and age-appropriate thrills. More than that though is the fact that this film has a great message. I honestly prefer Spirited Away because that is just an unbelievable experience for the senses but I have to admit that Coraline came very close and is a worthy American competitor. I just hope that we get more kids films like this in the future.

9.5/10

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10 Comments

Filed under Animation, Horror, Kids, Mind Blowingly Awesome

10 responses to “Coraline (2009)

  1. I am in full-blown agreement with you on this one! I’m a huge Gaiman fan, and I was very excited for this movie to come out. Have you reviewed Stardust yet? You should watch that one next!

    • I have not reviewed Stardust actually although I have seen it and I did enjoy it. I had no idea that Gaiman wrote the novel though! Kind of blown away by that fact. He truly is a genius!

      • He really is! If you get a chance to see Stardust again you’ll definitely notice the hallmarks of Gaiman’s storytelling on it. He’s such an original, I think I love that the most about him.

  2. >In a lot of ways Coraline is like the westernized horror version of Spirited Away.<

    OH SHIT YES. I don't know why that didn't occur to me!

    I'm not entirely sure I'd say Coraline was necessarily aimed at kids…it definitely had a much more "adult" feel, to me anyway, than anything else Selick has done. Way, way darker… it actually scared the crap out of my daughter, who was 13 or 14 at the time (we went right near her birthday but I can't remember if it was before or after). I thought it was the best thing ever, pretty much. (Amusing: this is exactly the opposite of what Gaiman predicts in the novel's afterword, where he opined he didn't think kids would be scared by it at all, that they'd see it more as an adventure novel, while adults would take it as horror.)

    • I think my view of what’s appropriate for kids is a little warped: my mum let me watch all sorts of crazy crap as a kid so I think my tastes are based on that. I can see why people would be scared by this film though. The Beldame is absolutely terrifying!

      • Well, my kid’s favorite movie as a toddler was Jurassic Park… heh. (But who am I to judge? Mine was The Exorcist, though it didn’t come out till I was four and I probably didn’t first see it till I was six…)

  3. I’m a huge fan of Coraline! Its done very well and although its not completely aimed as kids, I’d say as adults, we’ll enjoy that fine line between horror for adults in animation.

  4. So glad you liked this! Coraline is my favourite animated film of all time, its just brilliant. Henry Selick is a true artist who manages to create a strong likeable lead character, unusual moments and stunning animation As someone who has read the book, I can say that this is the occasion where the film is better than the book.

    • That’s interesting that you preferred the film. I haven’t read the book myself but I’m not sure I need to now because the film was just so magical and visual. Thanks for commenting and for following!

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