I’m a pretty big supporter of stop-motion animation. I always have been, for a very long time.
For as long as I can remember, I would sit on my couch as a kid and watch stop-motion films like the lovely The Nightmare Before Christmas (which actually has a comic-book tie-in) or even Chicken Run and laugh my butt off at the jokes, marvel at the animation, listen to the music, and just all around be amazed. It’s because of these films that I even made my own stop-motion videos with my American Girl dolls as a kid – even if they were never good.
However, no other stop-motion film has changed my life more than Coraline. The film, directed by Henry Selick, tells the story of a young girl who is trying to get used to her new, boring life in an old house when she finds a strange door that leads to a whole other world, full of dark secrets.
There are so many reasons why this stop-motion film really changed me, but because we’re limited on time here, I’m going to go over six thoughts I had while re-watching the movie, and the reasons why it means so much to me.
Why Is This Movie Considered A Kid’s Movie?
Seriously. Why is Coraline considered a kid’s movie? Because this movie is certainly not.
Even now as a twenty-four-year-old adult, there are still moments here that feel even creepier than in some of the upcoming horror films; set pieces and designs and the way in which words are spoken that send shivers up my spine and make me want to turn away from the TV screen. I mean, think about that button scene – the very idea of getting buttons sewn into my eyes makes me quite literally want to barf because god the pain.
I’ll even refer to an article from when the film came out in 2009 that says yes, this movie is too scary for kids. At least some kids.
I have to say that even though I feel as if I was tricked into watching this film as a kid – since, again, it was marketed as a children’s movie – it made me realize I liked a whole other genre – horror. While I have watched the best horror films for ages, Coraline was one of the first tamer scary movies I saw as a kid that made me realize I actually really liked scary things – so, thanks, Coraline. You changed me for good.
The Stop-Motion Animation Is Absolutely Stunning
This is coming from someone who has really seen it all when it comes to stop-motion animated films, and only two others have gotten close to the animation style that I truly love in Coraline - 2022’s Wendell and Wild on Netflix, and The Nightmare Before Christmas. Both of which director Henry Selick did have involvement in, so it makes sense.
The animation in Coraline is on another level, though. Not only is it expertly done, the ways in which it is used is even better. The animation is dull and gray in Coraline’s real world, but as she steps into the fantasy one, it’s colorful, beautiful, and full of amazing beauty. As she starts to uncover the truth, the animation changes to darker, more depressed colors, as things begin to die, while her real world starts to look beautiful again. It’s a great way to show the mental changes in Coraline throughout the film.
The Other Mother Legit Still Gives Me The Creeps
Yeah, no, that woman is still a hard no from me. It’s moments like this where I ask again how people are able to so easily say this is a children’s movie, when characters like the Other Mother populate it. She straight up looks like a black widow spider going in for the kill – and if that was the intended character design, the animators knocked it out of the park.
But yeah, for me, she’s up there with some of the most terrifying movie villains, even more than modern horror movie villains. Is she as bloody or gruesome? No, but what makes the Other Mother scary is that she doesn’t use violence against her victims – she lures them in like a predator with their favorite foods, toys, experiences, and everything they could ever want, before she sews buttons into their eyes for the idea that they could have everything – until it kills the children. She’s evil in its purest form.
Dakota Fanning Really Knocked It Out Of The Park With Her Voice-Acting
The Fanning siblings – stars Elle Fanning and Dakota Fanning – have made strides in Hollywood over many years. The former is the star of The Great, which is getting Season 3, and has done so many amazing movies, while the latter has been in the Twilight franchise, and so many films, like as part of the Once Upon a Time in Hollywood cast. Both are incredibly talented.
But, I have to say, Dakota Fanning does have one thing over her sister, and that’s her voice-acting, because she knocked it out of the park with Coraline in the lead role. She was just able to convey that fear and anxiety that Coraline must have been feeling in her darkest moments so perfectly, that I wish the elder Fanning sibling did more voice work. She was great.
Coraline Lowkey Needed This Experience To Be Humbled
I don’t know if y'all remember how Coraline acted in the beginning but in my adult mind, she needed this experience to be humbled.
Yes, I whole-heartedly agree that her parents should have paid more attention to her. I think every child at some point has experienced the feeling of being left behind or not cared about by their parents just because they work very hard; even I have. However, I feel like she took her parents for granted for so long. It’s not the end of the world that they are focused on their work, or are stressed about bills.
That’s just normal everyday life, something that you could clearly tell was stressing them out, but they took that out on their daughter sometimes, and that’s not okay. However, by the end, you can clearly see how much Coraline truly does love her family, because she doesn’t want anything bad to happen to them, and she would do anything just to go back and be with them again. She needed this experience.
Also, I think her stepping into this other world really taught her the value of friendship, because her calling Wybie “Why-Were-You-Born” was something even older me would feel offended by, and even though she was upset at her current living situation, she never should have taken it out on Wybie.
Granted, their first interaction was him scaring her, but still. I don’t think anyone should be told that.
Henry Sellick Really Knows How To Make A Stop-Motion Film
I mean, really. This man makes good stop-motion horror films. He just does. He was responsible for both 2022’s Wendell & Wild and The Nightmare Before Christmas and in all of those, his creativity shines through to deliver valuable themes.
It aggravates me that we always have to wait so long for one of his stop-motion films to come out, because they really are standouts amongst all the stop-motion films out there. But, I will be waiting at home with bated breath for more to drop – and hopefully, it’ll be just as good as Coraline.
If you haven’t had the chance to see the movie yet, be sure to check it out online.
Rent/Buy Coraline on Amazon. (opens in new tab)
No matter what, Coraline is, hands down, going to be one of my favorite stop-motion films, for what it did for me and how I can still watch it years later and feel that same amount of unease. It’s just great – and deserves so much love.
Big nerd and lover of Game of Thrones/A Song of Ice and Fire. Will forever hate season eight. Superhero and horror geek. And please don't debate me on The Last of Us 2, it was amazing!
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