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Coraline Print E-mail
Written by Ivan Radford   
Friday, 08 May 2009 09:30
Director: Henry Selick
Cast: Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, John Hodgman, Ian McShane
Certificate: PG
Trailers / Clips

Kids today are force-fed a stream of sugar-coated animation, filled with formulaic, unfunny jokes, often in 3-D. It's no surprise, then, that this latest eye-catching offering is low on laughs. But hold your horses, there, skeptical cinemagoer: Coraline is a creepy, disturbing affair, which tingles your spine in a most uncomfortable way. Yes, this is an old-school fairy tale. That's a good thing. Presuming you're not 9 years old.  

Coraline (Fanning) lives a dull life, neglected by her work-focussed parents (Hatcher and Hodgman). In a new home, surrounded by strange neighbours, she dreams of a better place, like most kids would. The difference is that she finds it, hidden behind a secret door upstairs. 

Here, everything comes over all Henry Selick - twisted, colourful, stunning and odd, her alternate reality is every bit a stop-motion Pan's Labyrinth. The neighbours are fascinating - the eccentric, drunk Mr Bobinski (McShane) now actually has a circus full of dancing mice - the garden is gorgeous, and the food is delicious. Oh, and they all have buttons for eyes. At the heart of it all is Coraline's Other Mother (Hatcher), a smiling, sinister surrogate, who wants to keep her there forever.

Directed with a natural eye for the macabre, this weird and wonderful world reeks of attention to detail, the wiry puppets fleshed out by the 3-D photography. The dark plot, taken from Neil Gaiman's novel, is a perfect match for Selick's visual style, providing a touch of menace that has long been missing from family films. It might be too scary for younger kiddy-winks, and the ending is a bit hurried, but Selick's spooky storytelling is still strong.


Not quite The Nightmare Before Christmas, but Coraline is a pleasingly unpleasant bedtime story.


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