- Complete Monster: The Beldam from both the book and movie, or the Other Mother, is a wicked temptress who lures children into her otherworldly lair with the promise of a better life. The Other Mother spoils them and subtly draws them more and more into the world, eventually convincing them to sew buttons onto their eyes to stay in her realm forever. Once they do, however, she murders them and locks away their souls so as to replenish her energy. She has repeated the process with three children (in the movie, this includes the sister of the owner of the apartment the gateway between worlds is in), and tries to do the same to the titular Coraline. Upon her defiance, the Other Mother kidnaps her parents and forces her into a horrifying game of finding the dead children's eyes. She also casually disfigures her own servants when they resist her, turning the Other Father into an abominated slug. The Other Mother also claims she killed her own mother, as well. Once Coraline wins the eyes, the Other Mother still attempts to catch her, and sends her severed hand into the real world to pursue Coraline once she escapes her clutches. In the film, she also forces the Other Father into attacking his "daughter," and she murders the Other Wybie after he had helped Coraline escape. The Other Mother is one of the most twisted villains in children's literature and stands as a prime example of being careful what you wish for.
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- Alternative Character Interpretation:
- The Other Mother. Some say her only desire to eat children's lives; others say she's a Woobie who truly wants to love and be loved but just can't control her hunger.
- Alternately, she might not see the difference between loving children and eating their lives. Just like how she doesn't see the difference between loving someone enough to know what's genuinely best for them, or giving them everything they want.
- Big Lipped Alligator Moment: The audiobook version has a weird song sung in the middle of chapter 5. It's related to the plot of the story, but comes out of nowhere, is the only one, and is never touched upon again.
- Iron Woobie: Coraline. Unlike her movie counterpart, she never whines and always tries to keep a decent attitude despite the things she goes through.
- Paranoia Fuel: Be afraid of buttons. Be VERY afraid.
- One of the quotes from reviews on the back cover of the book says, "You'll never look at buttons the same way again." The quote was from Terry Pratchett.
- What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: Full of distinctly Freudian terror, but the true creepiness of the book isn't always apparent to kids, who might see it as just a book about scary monsters.
- Accidental Innuendo: "Mothers don't eat daughters, do they?" (Only in Fanfiction and Rule 34, we hope.)
- Awesome Music: Bruno Coulais' score for the movie is stunning, particularly the opening theme, which really does evoke a sense of the world through the eyes of a child.
- Base Breaker: Wybie. Some of Coraline's character development is changed or removed completely in order to focus on him. Most notably, he comes to Coraline's rescue at the last minute in the ending; in the book, Coraline didn't need saving, because she was setting a trap the entire time. Others however, including Neil Gaiman find that he was a neccessary character in order to make the narrative more fluid and to give Coraline someone to talk to.
- Big Lipped Alligator Moment: MY KINGDOM-M-M-M-M FOR A HORSE!!!
- Cult Classic: Averted. It was a big hit when it first came out, both critically and financially, and is still fondly remembered.
- Ear Worm: They Might Be Giants spend some time makin' up a song about Coraline...
- Knowing that the movie was originally planned as a musical with songs by They Might Be Giants, it's probably fair to say that a good number of these were averted. The song "Careful What You Pack" (which eventually wound up on Their 2007 album The Else) was originally written for this movie, and damn but it's catchy.
- I'm known as the siren of all seven seas, the breaker of hearts by the bay..."
- Ensemble Dark Horse: The Other Wybie is insanely popular among the fanbase.
- Everyone Is Jesus in Purgatory: More like "Everyone is Lenin in Russia", according to this article.
- Genius Bonus: Going with the book's implication that the Other Mother is a member of The Fair Folk, her ability to transform things into something else (rats into mice, a pumpkin into the Other Father) is very similar to the glamour that Fairies use to lure humans. Leaving a doll behind when she takes a human also calls to mind Fairies leaving an inanimate object behind in place of the abductee. Said object also resembles the person stolen.
- Hell Is That Noise: "GIVE IT BACK! GIVE IT BACK! GIVE IT BACK!"
- Hilarious in Hindsight:
- From this clip:
- HSQ: Breaks the record for PG-rated films.
- Jerkass Woobie: Coraline.
- Memetic Mutation:
- The official website has a section where you can add button eyes to pictures. Let your imagination runs free...
- Coraline's hat has gained quite a following too.
- Real-life example: A contest was held on the official site, where winners would receive custom-made Nike Dunks sneakers, which are made to look stitched together with patches, feature big, black buttons on the sides, and the soles are blue with white stars, much like the shirt the Other Mother makes for Coraline.
- Misaimed Marketing: During the TV broadcast of the movie they aired an advertisement for a brand of dolls that have buttons for eyes.
- Paranoia Fuel: The doll. Think about it. A foreign object that transforms and moves around your house when you're not looking. And it turns out to be the Other Mother's spy. Which implies the other mother can see through buttons. Sleep tight.
- Toy Ship: Coraline and Wybie. Most of the time, it seems this trope is the main reason why the latter was added to the film version of the story, even though Word of God states that it was because he didn't want Coraline to be lonely and talking to herself. It's still painfully obvious on Wybie's side, though.
- And that the producer Bill Mechanic wanted Selick to put in lots and lots of kids. Adding Wybie helped Selick to satisfy that need as well.
- Uncanny Valley: Done on purpose. Those eyes...
- Not to mention the Other Mother's skin in her final form.
- Gaiman is something of a fan of this trope. Half of the persona for Islington in Neverwhere came out of the budget special effects cupboard in the form of 3M light reflective fabric and... black contact lenses.
- Also, there's the fact that the stop-motion in the other world is ever so slightly off, especially during the circus scene. It's hardly enough to be noticed, but enough to be unnerving.
- For the shots down the tunnel to the Other House, the two cameras used to get a 3D effect were set a bit farther apart, warping the perspective enough to make you realize something was up. In other words, when you looked down the tunnel, you were seeing it through a pair of eyes that no human can have.
- When Coraline is searching for the lost children's souls, and she goes into Bobinsky's apartment, Bobinsky is seen dashing around in the background. Anytime you see him, particularly as he's winding around the rafters, it seems like he doesn't have bones. The effect is profoundly unsettling.
- Visual Effects of Awesome: About halfway through the movie, try to remind yourself that the movie is stop-motion and not CGI. No, you can't.
- Many people who saw the movie in it's initial release were not impressed because they didn't!
- What Do You Mean, It's for Kids?: Yes, despite being terrifying, this movie is appropriate for kids, so long as they can handle a good scare every now and then. Oddly enough, the ABC Family airing slaps it with a TV-14 rating.
- The Woobie: Coraline, the ghost children, other father, other Wybie, and arguably the real Wybie.