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Coraline review – I’m still shaking!

Submitted by on May 25, 2009 – 2:08 amOne Comment

coraline-posterAfter a long delay I am able to speak of my horrific experiences of going to see in 3D. I had expected a film that had the charm and fun of the Wallis and Gromit movies. With this in mind then, I encouraged my son to accompany me to the cinema to appreciate what some critics have called a beautiful masterpiece.

How wrong was I! In fact the whole experience made me feel quite shaken as I had hoped for a cutesy story and experienced a nightmarish (but stunning) one. Incredibly though, my ten year old absolutely loved the film. Since he is not writing this review and still enjoys the nightmares of High School Musical, you are left with a very easily scared parent trying to encourage you to go and see it anyway.


An adventurous girl finds another world that is a strangely idealised version of her frustrating home, but it has sinister secrets.


Having not experienced The Before Christmas (also directed by Henry Selick), I was unsure of what to expect. From the short clips that I have seen of that film, I had obviously gathered that it was a dark take on the Christmas classic. Naturally when going to see Coraline I had expected a shade of darkness, in the echoes of children’s classic tales (such as Hansel and Gretel or Alice in Wonderland).

To a great extent, that is exactly what I received. However I had forgotten how incredibly scary these stories were. They dealt out quite horrific scenes by the handful. Coraline’s story seems to owe much to Alice in Wonderland and the rest to Nightmare on Elm Street! I am aware that perhaps I am not the bravest of individuals on the planet (I am often to be found hiding behind the whilst watching Doctor Who) but this “children’s” story is perhaps best with a bit of furniture obscuring your view.

Unfortunately in a cinema (and especially in a 3D showing) you are unable to do this, as your offspring is likely to think less of you when reveal that you are scared of puppets! All is well though as my are now a great deal shorter. You may be wondering exactly what was so scary in a children’s film. It is the fact that the very underlying “badness” is evident but not revealed too openly and too quickly. In fact the first 30 minutes of the film are positively dull as we see a bratty child moan about everything and require attention twenty-four seven. Only after this time when a small door is found and a button-eyed alternative family are revealed, do things start getting interesting (it certainly woke my son up).

There is no question that Coraline is visually impressive. I imagine that even without 3D to scare you further, each and every viewer will be in awe of its creation. In fact if you take a look at the video below you’ll see how complex the creation truly is.

So the creation and animation of Coraline is certainly Oscar-worthy but what about the story? For an adult you will be sitting there bored for a while as the exposition gets revealed. For a complicatedly (is that a real word) crafted piece, it doesn’t mind taking its time in telling you the story. Once the other world is revealed the attention of us parents is certainly retained as you feel that you are seeing where this story is going long before your child (and you fear that destination).

The story itself seems to have come straight from a drug-induced stupor as it is obscure to say the least. Buttons for eyes and the eccentric neighbours in a house with a Being John Malkovich door within, is not something that your average storyteller will come up with. This nightmarish vision it seems, was mine and mine alone as I looked over to my son who seemed to be having the time of his life. I would have thought originally that he would be somewhat freaked out by the affair (especially as it was in 3D). I was wrong. The only ones in the cinema truly scared of what was happening on screen were the parents.

Overall Coraline takes a little too long to tell a story and the sub characters are fairly uninteresting, but it tells it with highly impressive visuals. You may think that the subject of sewing buttons on as eyes may scare children off but it manages to engage them further (what a sick world we live in). If anything of this experience it has become clear that my son loved this film and that I am a complete pansy!


Coraline takes you to a place that you may not want to go. Your older children are likely to love it there, but for me: I am still having nightmares about buttons. Make sure you go and see the 3D version as if you are going to be scared; you may as well get scared in style! In fact I think it scared me more than the last six Freddy Krueger films!

Unfortunately it didn’t entertain as much as I’d hoped. Visuals aside the story is let down somewhat by its fairly uninteresting sub-characters.

In a world where nightmarish tales are told to children each and every day Coraline merely with it (to good effect). Go and see it before it leaves cinema!

Rating: 4 out of 5


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