Quick-Thoughts: Henry Selick’s Coraline (2009)

?? Viewing

“Don’t leave me! Don’t leave me! I’ll die without you!”

Charlie Kaufman wishes he could reach the height of existential dread that Coraline has. 

That metal, needle hand is the most terrifying thing ever conceived in the history of cinema and it’s boldly showcased first in just the opening credits of Coraline, sewing a plush doll of its soon-to-be temporary child. It’s been 12 years since its release and I’m still processing Henry Selick’s latest work that has burned quite the nostalgic wound into my memories. There’s something so surreal about these flat-looking backdrops folded into some seriously off-putting VFX/stop-motion hybridizing that can then be blamed for kickstarting Laika momentarily into their deserved spotlight, a spotlight I wish we saw more often. 

Coraline is a young girl perpetuated under nightmare-fueled childhood delusions mechanized to fill the holes of her real life parental neglect. The pothole of abuse that Coraline festers in is literally personified by having the film’s animation (her world) torn piece by piece into a colorless abyss as the film escalates her loneliness and those around her’s loneliness into even more harrowing states as our inside, non-public interactions and unconditional love descends apart, subsequently harming all parties. She’s growing up in a sense, facing through this possible vision of her’s that she will never live in an idealistic reality of all-loving parents, and will have to cope with the cards she was dealt with. 

However, is it possible that Coraline lives with parents who manipulate her with occasional attention and punish her when they don’t get the elongated respect that they think they deserve and this is just the nightmare she goes through extensively every time such a rare event happens? Either way if this particular insinuation were true or not in the context of the story’s actual reality, wouldn’t it still be nice to believe that as we become aware of mistakes such as this committed from even those that may have raised us, our past and ongoing tragedies can then be released into heaven as we try to become the better (more selflessly affectionate) people for us and those who could never experience it, like how we did to Coraline’s… button-eyed ghost pals?

Gotta love a family friendly film that tells the tale of a legacy of mothers wanting to eat their daughters from generation to generation in an obscurely remote neighborhood patched up by murky, cement-barred clouds. This movie should be illegal, but hey, what an important allegory it is for deciphering the people you grow up with, what exactly their parenting could indicate about their own selves, and what that entitles you to do in order to push on through it. See? This is a children’s movie after all!

I hope doors that can stretch on their own never exist though. Man, that scene was grueling. 

Verdict: B+

My All-Time Favorite Animated Movies

“Coraline” is now available to rent on Amazon Prime.

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