Coraline is a young girl who has just moved from Michigan to Oregon with her parents. Her parents are too busy working on some form of catalogue, so Coraline is told to go find something to do to entertain herself. As she is investigating the converted mansion and its grounds, she meets Wybourne who has been told to stay away from the house by his grandmother. The next day, he gives Coraline a doll which looks exactly like her that he found in his grandmother's trunk.
When exploring the house further, Coraline comes across a small locked door which has been wallpapered over, and she tells her mother to unlock it for her. What's underneath? Nothing but a brick wall. On the night, Coraline is awoken by small sounds, and sees a jumping mouse. She follows the mouse to the secret little door and opens it, finding a passageway rather than the usual brick wall. This is where the fun begins...
On the other side of the door is a parallel universe; the "other world" with her "other mother" and "other father". They look the exact double of her usual parents, except they have buttons for eyes! These parents tend to show Coraline more attention, and give her anything she wants; but why? Every night when she falls asleep in the "other world", she wakes up back in her own bed in her normal house. This continues for quite a while.
So why are these parents acting so perfectly? Have they got a secret plan for Coraline? Do they want more than just to care for her...?
First of all I would like to praise the actors for such a wonderful job with the voices. Dakota Fanning packs a lot of expression and tone in her voice which makes the character more believable and realistic. Teri Hatcher and John Hodgman play the normal parents wonderfully, but I really enjoyed listening to them play the "Other Mother and Father" as they had the perfect creepy tone of voice to play them. It's amazing seeing how people's voices can adapt to suit the film they're voicing over!
Secondly, I found the film visually impressive. The colours in it are harmonised perfectly, as many of the dull, boring colours are used for the "normal" world, and the bright colours are used for the "other" world, showing a clear line down the middle. When Coraline enters the passageway to the "other" world, there is a mesmorising pattern which is usually seen in hypnotic scenes of other films, and this is exactly what it seemed the director is trying to get at. All of the little details of the film are done finely, and you can see every little aspect of it has had a lot of thought put into it.
Coraline is a disturbing tale, which makes it even more amazing! As an 18 year old, even I found it scary at times, and found myself wondering what would happen if there was indeed a parallel universe like the one depicted in the film. There were times when the "Beldam" got extremely scary for me (this coming from someone who doesn't find horror films AT ALL scary), especially with her grotesque appearance and terrifying movements.
I would definitely recommend this to anyone who liked 'The Nightmare Before Christmas', but not to younger viewers, as it may be a little too scary for them! However, it is an amazing film, and it has a great storyline to it which would engage anyone.