Friday, December 1, 2023
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Coraline Review

Demented individuals who circle the drain with Monster energy will latch to Coraline as though this and The Nightmare Before Christmas were personality replacements. Turn the other cheek, look deep into the scrabble of fan theories on TikTok and engage with a movie that is nearing its fifteen-year anniversary. Social media claims that so far eluded those who knew of the film and tagged it to the same freaks who present having an Instagram account for their car as a viable replacement for a hobby may be turned off by a return to the Henry Selick classic. Father Time waits for nobody, not even those bright sparks who reintroduce the animated classic to hungover journalists trying to monitor the four-pan spaghetti bolognese recipe. At least Monster energy is not their personality, as it is for the days of secondary school when Coraline provided a red flag.  

But bespectacled freaks and former classmates may be onto something with this Selick piece, a clunkily animated classic that does hold firm in its charm all these years later. Theory after theory spills into a piece where imagination was the excuse and a trapdoor in the spare room was the gateway. Escapism through the mind must be a message core to those who collect the intricate details left behind by Selick, who says everything is purposeful. It enriches Coraline far beyond other animated features which include a spot-gag here or a reference there. Light gothic charms are the attraction, but sticking around for the deeper dives is part of the experience. 

Said enjoyment comes not just from the background details and the finer qualities but from Coraline as a whole. Its sharp writing and this intricate balance between childhood intrigue and astoundingly frightening moments are, for those wanting nothing more than what is presented, a real light horror. Maintaining its theme and crooked appeal brings out the spine-tingling momentum that carries this Selick piece. Dakota Fanning and Keith David provide outstanding voice work here, bringing out the best in a finely tuned script. Balance is key in a feature like this, and deploying the recognisable voices of Ian McShane, Jennifer Saunders and Dawn French only adds to the effective character-building. Creative and energetic worldbuilding of this type is hard to come by, yet smart casting makes it feel so natural.  

Settling in for a watch of Coraline well over a decade after first viewing it opens up that nostalgia-prodding sensation which comes from the best of the late-2000s. But deeper within this Selick piece is the chance to explore further and further. Even in its ninety-minute form, there are hours of theories and claims to unpack, all the more interesting than the last. An absolute, rare form of longevity comes from Coraline and it is the desperately mad fans that are to thank for that. It is not the reason it sticks in the mind after all these years, that is down to how great a film it is on the whole, with stylish animation and tremendous worldbuilding to boot, but something has to be said for its TikTok revival.  

Ewan Gleadow
Ewan Gleadow
Editor in Chief at Cult Following | News and culture journalist at Clapper, Daily Star, NewcastleWorld, Daily Mirror | Podcast host of (Don't) Listen to This | Disaster magnet

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