Author’s Note: This article is written about Coraline (2009), and the book to which it was based. The comments and observations have no knowledge of other works. Thank you.
Additional Note: All articles on MK Horror contain spoilers.
Article written by Maggie K. Ward
Some of the most impressive scary movies are animated. Coraline is no exception. Based off the novel by Neil Gaiman, it tells the story of a bored girl looking for fun and excitement. Having recently moved into a house with several eclectic neighbors, Coraline (Dakota Fanning) explores the grounds and meets Wybie (Robert Bailey Jr.) an annoying boy whose grandmother owns the Pink Palace. He brings her a strange doll that happens to look just like her.
Her parents are too busy working, and thus don’t have time to entertain her. She explores the house and finds a small door behind the wallpaper in the living room. She convinces her mother to open it, but to her astonishment, there are only bricks behind it…for now.
That night, she dreams of a little mouse that takes her to the door, but this time the bricks are missing and she is able to crawl through to the other side. It looks just like her house, but with small differences. The painting of a sad boy with his ice cream on the ground is now a painting of a happy boy licking his ice cream cone. She meets her Other Mother (Teri Hatcher) and Father, which are pleasant versions of her real parents. The whole place is brighter, more cheerful, and better than she could imagine. The big difference is the big black buttons sewn into her Other Parents’ eyes.
The next morning she meets her neighbors. Mr. Bobinski (Ian McShane) is an odd man that runs a fancy jumping mouse circus in his appartment. He informs her of a message from his mice: “Do not go through little door.” The actresses that live downstairs, Miss Spink (Jennifer Saunders) and Miss Forcible (Dawn French) are obsessed with Scottish terriers. They even have had their dead dogs stuffed and mounted to the wall. Miss Spink reads her tealeaves, and informs her she in grave danger
Another night leads to more mice, and a second trip through the door. She takes a trip to the Other Bobinski’s mouse circus with the Other Wybie. This Wybie has been “fixed” by the Other Mother and can’t speak. The mouse circus is bright and cheerful, yet the music has a sort of dissonance to it.
Everything seems too good to be true. Another trip through the door, she is greeted with gifts and sweets. The Other Miss Spink and Forcible put on a grand show for Coraline and a theater full of Scottish terriers. These shows and gifts are here merely to win Coraline’s heart.
But slowly the pleasures turn into terrors as Coraline falls asleep but doesn’t wake up in her real bed. The Other Father begins to wilt and Coraline runs into the woods. She learns of the Other Mother’s world, and her desire for someone to love…or eat. Naturally, Coraline pisses off the Other Mother and all her features elongate and sharpen turning her into a monster with only minimal characterists similar to Coraline’s real mother. She looks like a cross between a bug and Cruella Da Vil. She locks Coraline in a space inside the mirror. It is here, where she meets other children that were taken and killed by the Other Mother.
She challenges the Other Mother to a game: if Coraline finds her parents and the ghost kids’ eyes, she is to be set free. Otherwise, she will allow the Other Mother to sew the buttons into her eyes. She is given a clue: “In each of three wonders I’ve made just for you, a ghost’s eye is lost in plain sight.”
Naturally, she is to find a ghost’s eye in the garden, the Other Miss Spink and Forcible’s theater, and the Other Bobinski’s jumping mouse circus. In the garden, a half melted Other Father on a scary grasshopper machine attacks her. He apologizes and says the Other Mother is making him hurt her. At the Other Miss Spink and Forcible’s theater, the Scottish terriers have transformed into terrifying dog/ bat hybrids. They hang from the ceiling snarling at her. The Other Spink and Forcible has twisted into one giant monster that must protect another one of the eyes. The Other Bobinski is now a giant floppy ragdoll filled with rats. He slumps around attempting to convince her to stay here with the Other Mother.
The Other Mother is now showing her true colors. She’s a skinny sharp spider creature with sewing needles as fingers. She has multiple pointy legs that she clicks around with. The entire set transforms into a giant spider web that she attempts to catch Coraline in.
The Other Mother ultimately loses, and Coraline gets her parent’s back. The other children are released from the Other Mother’s grasp and are set free. But, the Other Mother won’t let that stop her. Her terrifying needle hand manages to sneak its way into Coraline’s world. Luckily, it is outsmarted and crushed by Wybie.
This movie is fairly frightening at times. I certainly wouldn’t recommend it for children. I think it’s funny that most people assume animated films are for children. I know Coraline would have scared me as a kid. Though I was a bit of a wimp growing up.
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