What if you could have everything your heart desired? There is only one little catch, you need to sew buttons into your eyes and be willing to lose your soul. On this 31 Days of Horror edition of Creations of Chaos, it’s one my favorite animated films, the disturbingly creepy, Coraline.
I haven’t watched new episodes of The Simpsons in years, but when I heard that this year’s Treehouse of Horror episode included a segment spoofing Coraline, with Neil Gaiman voicing the cat, I knew I had to watch (it was just okay).
Coraline is one of my favorite films. I can still recall that feeling of awed movie bliss I felt as the ending credits began to roll.
It’s my favorite non-Ghibli animated film, and the soundtrack is my absolute favorite film soundtrack.
As a girl who loves something creepy, but doesn’t like the visceral blood and guts of horror, Coraline is the perfect film to pull out during the Halloween season.
Coraline isn’t having the best life. Her parents are busy writers, who don’t have time to give Coraline the amount of attention that she craves. On top of that, she just moved away from her friends, to relocate to an apartment building that includes two retired, eccentric, actresses, and a man who might be an alcoholic, who is training a mouse circus. Coraline is bummed, until she finds a tiny door, that leads to an alternate reality. In the “other” reality, she meets her Other Mother and Other Father, who have all of the time in the world to dote on Coraline.
Infatuated by the seemingly perfect, “other” world, Coraline spends more and more time visiting all of the wonders it contains, but the life of her dreams takes a nefarious turn, and soon becomes the world of her nightmares.
Playing on Fears
Coraline is supremely creepy. It plays with a lot of common fears, rodents, insects, witches, ghosts, and abandonment. It also involves one of my biggest cringes, sharp, pokey things, in eyeballs.
Writer, director, and animator, Henry Selick stated that he did consider doing a live action film, but in the end, he thought it would be too scary for kids. He also did some testing with CGI animation, but it didn’t provide the surreal, bizarre, vibe he was hoping to achieve. In the end, stop-motion struck the right balance, creating an imaginative, eerie environment, while keeping things fictional enough to prevent children from acquiring, permanent, mental scaring.
My favorite aspect of the film, aside from the character of Coraline, is how each area of the “other” world, filled with so much fanciful fun at first, devolves into sinister chaos.
Beautiful flowers now want to consume you. Cute little mice transform into vicious rats. Quirky friends become monsters. It is so bonkers and yet, in the context of the story, completely believable.
Why Whybie – Book vs. Film
The biggest complaint most Coraline fans have about the film, is the addition of the character, Whybie. I don’t mind Whybie. I understand his addition. In the graphic novel and novel, a lot of the exposition, takes place inside of Coraline’s head. Unless you did a ton of voice over, Coraline needed someone in the film, aside from the cat, to dialogue with.
Whybie and Coraline info dump, so the audience is able to keep up with what is going on in the film. I understand why Whybie, though I’m still not thrilled with his use in the film’s ending.
The Ending – Book vs. Film
The ending of the film is the only part of the book vs. film that I dislike. One of the best aspects of Neil Gaiman’s story is that the character of Coraline fits into the self-rescuing Princess category.
Coraline is a brave, clever, young lady. Once she successfully saves her parents, she knows that she must put an end to The Beldam once and for all. Coraline formulates a plan, then executes that plan all on her own in the novel. In the film however, her plan goes awry, and Whybie shows up in the nick of time to save her, thus turning Coraline into a girl being rescued by a boy scenario. Coraline exhibits courage and intelligence, though she is not without her flaws. She is the type of girl for young girls to look up to.
In the director commentary, Henry Selick explains why he changed the ending, and it makes sense, but I still wish Whybie was left out of the the scene to give Coraline the girl power ending her character deserved.
Coraline is definitely one of those films that I feel was created just for me. The main character is intelligent, energetic, and strong. The story is imagination- gone- wild, strange, and inspiring.
It’s a great Halloween season film to give the kids, or horror movie scaredy-cats like me, some fun, spooky, frights.