Known for its button eyes and childhood nightmares, Coraline is a fantasy-horror film that uses stop-motion to bring its characters to life… or death. 11 year-old Coraline Jones moves to a new house with her parents. Feeling incredibly bored and alone, she finds happiness in a strange mirrored world, unaware of its hidden dangers.
Released in 2009, Coraline was written and directed by Henry Selick and based on a novella by Niel Gaiman. Ready for a new horror experience? Or, perhaps you’re curious to see if the film was as scary as you remembered. Well, let the door to the Other World be unlocked.
The Wonders of Children’s Imagination
A young mind, fresh to the world and oblivious to reality, is bound to have fantastical imaginations. We often associate child-like imagination with crayon-like saturated colours and fun theatrics.
In the film, we see the world around Coraline. The almost monochrome tone is present across not only in her entire neighbourhood but in her own mother and father’s clothes.
Meanwhile, a head of striking blue hair sits on Coraline’s head despite her parent’s own brunette hair colours. Her outfit usually contains bright saturated colours. An example would be her iconic yellow raincoat.
The colours she adorns show Coraline’s childlike mindset. She is imaginative, curious, and energetic. Consequently, without the attention of her parents or the presence of friends, she takes an interest in the liveliness of the Other World beyond a hidden door.
So, is there a hidden meaning in Coraline?
Looking past the bright garden and cheerful mice, there are many speculations about what the story of Coraline might truly mean. Domestic abuse may be a running theme with Coraline’s parents and the Other World could be her innocent way of coping with her ‘trauma’.
Both of the Jones parents are flooded with work, leaving little time to spend with Coraline. Despite Coraline’s desperately seeking attention, her parents clearly prioritise their jobs over their child. Her mother, especially, does not show Coraline much sympathy.
Generational trauma may also be a present theme in the film. Due to the neglect Coraline receives from her parents, she quickly insults the innocent Wyborn despite just meeting him.
“Why were you born?”, she spews suddenly. Talk about uncalled for.
On the other hand, Wyborn Lovat’s grandmother keeps a great amount of attention on her grandson. Having lost her twin sister at a young age, she has carried a great wariness all up to her old age. She looks over Wybie, always calling him back home so as to not risk losing another young family member. Unintentionally, she passes on her trauma to Wybie. It makes much more sense why the young boy is shy and shows a great amount of anxiety being around other people.
Coraline is animated via stop motion. LAIKA Studios was the animation company in charge of creating Coraline, which made it their first feature film.
Stop motion animation features a series of small sets filled with even smaller character models. These models are manually moved bit by bit with each shot of the camera. Once all the shots are spliced together, it creates a perfectly seamless movement.
Unfortunately, most people did not have high hopes for the box office success of Coraline due to its medium. Animation, generally, is not held as high of a regard in as films shot in live-action.
Despite all odds, Coraline managed to hit box office records with 124.60 million USD. This not only stumped other popular films such as ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ but made it the third highest-grossing stop-motion film.
Is Coraline Suitable for Children?
Coraline, despite its horror elements, is marketed as a children’s movie. Its medium in animation and its cartoonish characters panders greatly to children. Some may worry that the film may be too scary for the young, but sometimes, children love to have a good scare too.
The concept of family is easy to understand. Wanting attention and to get the things you want, like a cute pair of gloves, is something any child can relate to.
The clear line between good and evil makes the story easy to digest. The hero Coraline is someone we can root for as she tries to defeat her evil Other Mother, along with her feline sidekick.
In the end, no matter who you may be, Coraline is a stop motion masterpiece for all ages to enjoy.