Posted by Patrick
(Henry Selick, 2009)
A confession: I’ve never seen Selick’s previous work The Nightmare Before Christmas, James and the Giant Peach or Monkeybone. Two of these I have no excuse for, and the third has to do with an aversion to most things Brendan Fraser.
So, I approached Coraline as a newborn babe would, through the looking glass, and I have to say I’m somewhat sold on the hype.
Coraline (voiced by Dakota Fanning), new in town and ignored by her parents, travels through a tunnel to an alternate universe with an Other Mother and Father (Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman) that at first appears much nicer than her own. Soon enough, her Other World turns more sinister and frightening, and Coraline must struggle to return to her real parents or lose them forever.
The film was stylishly conceived and appears to be painstakingly executed. It also adheres to elements of some classic creepy children’s stories. Some of the simple terrifying elements — like the sewn-on buttons over characters’ eyes — are original and effective. But there’s so much else thrown in that it comes off as sensory overload. Maybe I’m not schooled in Selick-lore, but are all his films this chock-full of visual stimuli? My head was spinning, and I think it detracts from the story. The voice-acting was inconsistent, particularly when it came to the main character.
Older children who are interested in darker and certainly weirder material, as well as fans of Selick’s earlier work, might find this more memorable than me. As an adult, I found it perfectly watchable, and worthy of Selick’s cult stature. It may require repeated viewings, but there is much there to chew on. And of course, there’s no Brendan Fraser to work around.
Posted on August 24, 2009, in Film log and tagged black buttons scare me now, coraline, dakota fanning, henry selick, john hodgman, nightmare before christmas, teri hatcher. Bookmark the permalink. 3 Comments.