Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Coraline (Henry Selick, 2009) Review

I think it's an interesting point that I've not only already done a spot frame animated film but this is also the second one to be directed by Henry Selick...maybe he should stop being a freaky weirdo (sorry, sir). Now, A Nightmare Before Christmas is obviously a Halloween related film...and Christmas but more so Halloween. What does Coraline have to do with that or, failing that, is it the least bit scary...oh, you have no idea.

The Jones family recently moved into an old shared house old in the middle of nowhere. The daughter, Coraline (Dakota Fanning) feels ignored by her parents (Terri Hatcher and John Hodgman) and gets bored so she decides to explore their new home. Doing so, she finds a hidden passage that, obviously, she goes through. Coraline finds herself in a parallel world where everyone's eyes are replaced by buttons. She finds that in this world, her parents are much more attentive and treat her well. While this world seems all well and good, slowly the truth behind the other world is revealed and Coraline has to escape from her Other Mother.

Going in, I had no idea what to think think. Literally, no idea. Coming out...I can conclude that this is a pretty damn scary film. It worries me that this was targeted at kids considering some of the frightening imagery in this. Now, scary kids in films is fine in small doses like the pink elephants in Dumbo but, when it's a whole film of freaking imagery, I have to wonder if this is really a kids film. It proves to me that films like this are definitely scarier than any, so called, 'horror' film like Paranormal Activity can be (i.e. not scary in the slightest no matter how hard it tries). It doesn't rely on jump scares and simply uses imaginative characters and scenarios for raw horror.

Something I learnt about Coraline is that it was it was originally supposed to be a musical much like A Nightmare Before Christmas. Initially I didn't mind the change but considering that They Might Be Giants would be behind the soundtrack, I think we missed our chance for an excellent soundtrack (one short song is left in and it's great...and works in context). Since I can't think of a better segway, let's talk about the actors. Teri Hatcher does a great job as both mothers. She plays the real one as bored and uninterested however the Other Mother is played bi-polar with the calm and attentive side before switching to the cruel and terrifying performance. It's also good to see Dakota Fanning...put effort into a role. This and My Neighbour Totoro are the only films that I can think of where she does a good job. She just seems bored in other films but I guess I'll save that for other films.

Coraline is a well animated, good looking and genuinely scary film from stop fame mastermind Henry Selick. The voice actors do great jobs, especially Dakota Fanning and Teri Hatcher, and offers some imaginative scenarios and supporting characters. While I personally prefer A Nightmare Before Christmas mostly because I prefer the characters and designs, but I wouldn't argue with anyone that said Coraline is the stronger film...because it could possibly be. 

It looks good and is well animated, has great voice acting and is genuinely scary.

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