When it comes to horror, children are usually excluded in part due to the violence, terror or overt adult themes in the films. In general, horror is relegated to the brave and the daring who choose to sit through a few frights to enjoy a film. When you become a teen, it is near second nature. For adults, it’s a mixed bag of horror fanatics, the casual fan and those who abstain. Our relation to horror can be traced back to certain moments of people's lives. From scary moments to movies, everyone begins somewhere with horror, and “Coraline” is the perfect place to start.
“Coraline” is a claymation adaptation of the novel of the same name. The story simply follows a young child, Coraline, as she moves to a new home, discovers a secret dimension in her house and faces off against her “Other Mother.” It is a simple, visually striking feature that will keep children entertained, though that’s not the reason to watch “Coraline.”
“Coraline” dances the thin line of horror and fairy tale. The film tells children a morality tale while giving them a few scares along the way. How the film achieves this dance is with the Other Mother. Being an adult and the monster, the Other Mother becomes the fairy tale monster of the film.
For children, control is vested in the adults of their life. Adults have knowledge and abilities that are a mystery to children. Case in point, Coraline doesn’t understand why her parents don’t make time for her. Their busy and exhaustive lives are a mystery to Coraline, and she reads them as either unresponsive or uncaring parents.
The active Other Mother presents an escape for Coraline. So, when the Other Mother turns out to be an extra-dimensional monster, Coraline turns to her family for help, only to find they are trapped in the Other World. This prompts Coraline to take matters into her own hands, and save her parents.
What is scary about “Coraline,” aside from the button eyes, is the Other Mother herself. A monster that is analogous to a spider, the Other Mother is unnerving in her presentation.
The Other Mother lies in the uncanny, with a normal form with button eyes. She looks magical with her smile and glittering eye. Though, the threat is ever-existent with fairy tale warnings from talking cats and bugs.
The horror here is developed throughout the film, through clever deception and unnerving imagery. By the climax of the film, the mystery of the Other Mother is revealed in ghoulish-detail. The adult authority of Other Mother is stripped away to reveal the monster underneath. Adulthood becomes a mask, a presentation that is core to people.
This is the perfect amount of scare to mystery for children, since we engage with the Other Mother as a trusted adult, then as the monster in the film. Each idea is linked by small breadcrumbs of information throughout the film. By developing the simple horror of adults, children are able to engage with the text in creative and entertaining ways.
“Coraline” is a simple and engaging horror film for the whole family. Containing as many frights as the best of “Goosebumps,” children and adults alike can find something terrifying in "Coraline."
Benjamin Ervin is a senior studying English literature and writing at Ohio University. Please note that the views and opinions of the columnists do not reflect those of The Post. Want to talk more about it? Let Benjamin know by emailing him email@example.com.