Why Coraline Is So Creepy

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Screen Rant

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Shared October 8, 2019

Halloween season is here so let's talk about one of our favorite scary movies.
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Coraline might technically be a ‘kids movie,’ but that doesn’t make it any less scary. The stop-motion animated flick was inspired by Neil Gaiman’s 2002 book of the same name. Up to that point in his career, Gaiman had made a habit of treading in the realm of horror and fantasy. His work geared specifically towards adults, but Coraline was his first attempt to craft something with a younger audience in mind.

Despite his younger target audience, Gaiman didn’t shy away from some truly horrifying subject matter. That subject matter was expertly captured by filmmaker Henry Selick. Selick was actually Gaiman’s first choice to direct the film, as he’d been a fan of Selick’s other works: ‘The Nightmare Before Christmas’ and ‘James and the Giant Peach.’

Selick’s style doesn’t shy away from its creepier tendencies - a perfect fit for Gaiman’s novel. Anyone who’s seen one of his films can attest to that. His stop motion animation is simultaneously charming and unsettling. His character models are slightly exaggerated and his monsters are the stuff of genuine nightmares. It’s also in the way his scenes are lit. It’s not bright or chipper. There are shadows and dynamic lighting to emphasize just how unsettling the film’s subject matter is.

Beyond the disturbing visuals, it’s the subject matter itself. Coraline’s genuine fear for her life, the fear that her ‘Other Mother’ will sew buttons onto her eyes. There’s some heavy stuff here that’s sure to give kids nightmares. Let’s take a closer look to determine why Coraline is so effective in its creepiness.

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