Friday 12 October 2012

Coraline: Why it's The Best Kids Halloween Film

Fairy tales are scary. It's a fact. And I don't mean crappy Kristen Stewart films but real fairy tales like the original Rapunzel and Hansel & Gretel stories, where people were terrorised by monsters and main characters died. But unfortunately, most of these classic tales were written hundreds of years ago. Thank god then for Neil Gaiman.

Odd fellow he may be but Neil Gaiman is also responsible for writing some of the most innovative and celebrated fantasy fiction of the past 25 years. As well as creating such groundbreaking comics as 'The Sandman', Gaiman has also written a number of incredible novels for adults and children, including 'Stardust' and 'American Gods'. However, one of his most successful stories in recent years was the modern fairy tale 'Coraline', which was adapted into a stop-motion film by Henry Selick, the director of 'Nightmare Before Christmas'.

The story follows a girl named Coraline into a parallel reality, where everything seems so much better than in real life and her 'Other Mother' appears far more attentive and loving than her actual parents. But not everything is as it seems... 'Coraline' was a huge hit critically and was nominated for both an Academy Award and a Golden Globe for 'Best Animated Feature'. So what makes it such a great film? And more importantly, why is it so fricking scary for kids, and dare I say it, adults too?

Here's why.

Other Mother is a truly horrifying creation, voiced brilliantly by Teri Hatcher of 'Desperate Housewives' fame. From the very first scene, Other Mother is a constant prescence throughout the film, watching Coraline through the doll she creates during the opening credits with her metallic clawed hands.
Is it just me or are dolls the scariest fricking things that have ever existed!?
More on that in a later post.
Anyway, 'Coraline' has an incredible atmosphere, with the odd jittery nature of its stop-motion animation combined with the foggy setting of the real world and the darkness of the other reality.
The parallel world where Other Mother resides is definitely the creepier of the two though, where everything seems glossy and almost too perfect. I love how Coraline is manipulated by her 'new' Mother and Father as they try to persuade her to stay with them in their reality.
Coraline is initially swept away by the lavish meals and crazy happenings but it soon becomes apparent that Other Mother is hiding something, despite her sweet exterior. Let's face facts though; Coraline must have been pretty stupid to trust dopplegangers of her parents who have buttons where their eyes should be! Throughout the film, Other Mother slowly transforms from a seemingly innocent housewife - Susan? - into something more spider-like and eventually monstrous. I love how the animators subtly alter her appearance from this; 
 To this;
To say much more would spoil the film, except that I love how desperate and terrifying Other Mother becomes towards the end.

 "Don't leave me... I'll die without you!"
Gives me chills everytime. Sure it's not on the level of 'The Exorcist' or The Shining' but 'Coraline' is a creepy film for children which is perfect for Halloween and demands repeat viewings for its gorgeous animation and disturbing characters. Coraline herself is also a fantastic strong female character and I haven't even mentioned the dancing mice.

Or the French & Saunders double act!

I cannot rave enough about this film and I demand you go buy/rent/download it now instead of 'Monster House' or 'Hocus Pocus'! Sure they're great and all but 'Coraline' has Susan from Desperate Housewives in it! What else do you need? And don't forget to comment below to share your favourite 'Coraline' moments. There are so many great scenes that I haven't even begun to mention here so go for it!


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