Coraline (2009) is a stop-motion movie written, directed and produced by Henry Selick (The Nightmare Before Christmas, 1993).
I came across this little animated film thanks to my girlfriend, who suggested me to watch it. I so decided to expand my attention to the animated movies with horror elements and, after a quick search, I got intrigued by the screenplay, the directorial standpoint and, mostly, the plot.
We follow Coraline Jones, who moves with her family to a tumbledown apartment in the Pink Palace complex, in Oregon. Coraline’s neighbourhood includes the circus acrobat Mr. Bobinsky, the soothsayers Miss Spink and Miss Forcible, the quirky Wyborn “Wybie” Lovat, who is the grandson of the landlady, Mrs. Lovat. Coraline also encounters a black cat, simply known as the Cat. Neglected by her workaholic parents, Coraline decides to explore the apartment and finds out a secret, small passage which brings to a parallel universe, where everything looks like her reality and, contemporarily, completely different from it. In fact, the Other Mother and Other Father, who inhabit this world alongside the other Pink Palace’s residents, have buttons instead of eyes and behave in a very kind way, although there are shades of creepiness and duplicity in their behaviour…
Coraline, progressively engrossed in this new reality, where everything she has always dreamt of is becoming true, will discover – also thanks to Cat’s precious help – that there is a terrible secret behind the Other World.
As I wrote in the title, this movie is a dark fairy tale. However, don’t let the expression ‘fairy tale’ deceive you. The atmosphere, the cinematography and the stop-motion style of storytelling are unsettling independently from your age.
Coraline is a well-crafted movie, suitable for everyone – from kids to adults – which can go under your skin and has nothing to envy from the better-known The Nightmare Before Christmas.
As a very mature animated film, this movie should be praised for its character development – especially in regards to Coraline herself – and tone. Indeed, there are trail of obscurity and angst within the magic Other World, whereas the reality is depicted with dark and slumber colours, but has spurts of happiness and room for hope in it.
Yet, from a technical standpoint, the editing, the soundtrack and the facial expressions drawn on the characters’ faces are admirable.
Even though this movie came out in 2009 and grossed over 120-million dollars (!), I suppose not anyone has seen it so that I will avoid to give away the ending, which in all honesty somewhat reminded me of It (1990) grand finale. In a good, less disappointing way though.
In conclusion, if you look for an unconventional experience, somewhat reminiscing of Alice in Wonderland, which mixes creepy elements with more profound themes and morals, Coraline might be a great time for you. Cheers!