Coraline ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ 1/2 Review by Andrea Carnevali
An adventurous 11-year-old girl finds another world that is a strangely idealized version of her frustrating home, but it has sinister secrets.
Once in a while a film supposedly for children comes along which managed to surprise me more than any other ‘grown-up’ film.
I had seen Coraline before and I remember liking it, but I had forgotten how good it actually is.
13 years after its release this stop-motion animation is still magic, immensely imaginative, impeccably stylish and yes, very dark!
Whether its PG rating is appropriate is very debatable. We watched it last night and my nine year old son was petrified. A few times he even asked me to stop it (something that only happened during Jurassic Park).
Some of the images conjured up by the film are indeed pretty nightmare-inducing: people with buttons as eyes, creepy characters, dark settings, spooky tunnels, secret doors, as well as a general eerie atmosphere which gives the whole film a bone-chilling feel thought. It all feels much closer to those dark Grimm Brothers fairy tales than anything Disney has ever produced.
A lot of that is straight from the original book (which is in fact even scarier), but many of the filming techniques and devices used throughout heightened the tension and seemed to be straight out of certified horror films, from the sound effects to the type of tilted angles and dolly shots which cram the film from the start to finish (and in my view enhance it).
The stop-motion animation is seamless and the 3D effects (which sadly today only those few with 3D-Bluray capabilities can enjoy) worked beautifully.
The film has a few tiny pacing issues here and there, which probably prevented it from becoming the great success it really should have been (as well as the fact that it was indeed a bit too dark for kids), but overall I thought it was really beautiful, clever and constantly imaginative.
Director Henry Selick’s name might not instantly ring a bell with the average moviegoer, but he’s the guy who directed The Nightmare Before Christmas 16 years before this. Many still think Tim Burton did it, but actually he was only the producer. Selick is now putting the last touches on his latest new film Wendell and Wild co-written by Jonathan Peel, after a long 13 years hiatus. A story about two demons… which leads me to believe that he’s passion for all things dark is still strong.
I’ll certainly be keeping an eye out for it.
Andrea Carnevali is a Bafta winning film maker who lives in Chiswick.
See all Andrea’s film reviews here: Film reviews by Andrea Carnevali
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