Creepiness infests imaginative world of ‘Coraline’

Chloe Quinn

From the visionary director of “James and the Giant Peach” and “The Nightmare Before Christmas” comes a whimsical fantasy appropriate for young and old audiences alike. Henry Selick’s artistic abilities arrive in full force in “Coraline,” a film of enchanting twist and turns woven into the tale of a young girl’s journey through another world.

Coraline Jones, as played by Dakota Fanning, begins her tale as she moves to the Pink Palace Apartments in dreary Oregon. Forced to quell her boredom during the long bouts of rain, Coraline begins exploring her new home, finding a small door in a wall blocked by bricks.

One night Coraline has an all-too realistic “dream” where she discovers a pathway through this door to an alternate world appearing strangely similar to her own. Here, she has an Other Mother and Other Father who look exactly like her real parents with the exception that they have black buttons for eyes; in this world, her other parents seem legitimately concerned with Coraline’s happiness and do everything possible to entertain her.

Soon Coraline realizes that her “dreams” are actually real, so she continues to visit her other, more perfect parents who tell Coraline she can stay in the fantasy world if she simply agrees to sew buttons into her eyes. When Coraline grasps the absurdity and creepiness of this request, she decides that she’d rather be with her true parents, yet the Other Mother will not let her go so easily.

Coraline finds herself battling the evil witch disguised as her Other Mother to help save her kidnapped parents and free the souls of the ghost children whom the witch captured. Although this film has a strong connection to fantasy and even has relatively “dark” moments, it manages to center on a grounded message of personal courage following Coraline as she faces her own demons.

With 3-D glasses included, the visual imagery of “Coraline” parallels that of movies produced by animation powerhouses as Dreamworks and Pixar, adding another level of excitement and thrill to the plot. “Coraline’s” production process took three years, involving hundreds of professional technicians and animators who helped breathe life into the puppets and hand-made set used for the film.

The stop-motion imagery and musical score composed by Bruno Coulais provide an element of wittiness to this eccentric film. With a story that both children and adults can enjoy, “Coraline” offers a glimpse into a place where anything can exist–where the surreal becomes reality–reminding audiences just how fun it is to see imagination run wild.