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Fridge Brilliance

  • Mister Bobinsky sports a badge from the Chernobyl cleanup. Which is why he's blue. Selick himself states on the DVD commentary that he also likes to spend time outdoors and exercise, and it's winter... also a reason why he's blue. And possibly why he's so "eccentric" if you're bitter enough not to believe in the mice.
  • The neckbrace that Coraline's mother is wearing is a stealth pun: to her mother, Coraline's antics are a pain in the neck.
  • On closer examination, The Other Mother becomes thinner each time Coraline visits. She is starving.
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    • Incidentally, the Other Father plumps up with each visit as he's stuffed with her magical food. And because he's turning back into a pumpkin.
  • Ever notice how Wybie never stands up straight? He has scoliosis. Curvature of the spine. The Other Wybie doesn't have this, which either meant Coraline was irritated at this or was a bit more worried about him than she led him to believe.
  • Pay careful attention to the promises each of the two Mothers make. Coraline's real mother says "I promise, if things go well, I'll make it up to you". The Other Mother "promises" that if Coraline does find the ghost eyes and her real parents, then she will let go of all her captives. Only one of them keeps their end of the bargain when Coraline keeps her end (Saving her parents' lives does count as "things go well", even if she doesn't remember).
  • Wonder why Coraline returns to the real world after falling asleep in the Other World the first two times, but not the third time? Because the first two times, Coraline only visited the Other World in her dreams. The third time she goes, she visited the Other World in person, during the day. That's where she goes to bed, and that's where she wakes up.
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    • It could also add brilliance to why the Other Mother waited until the third visit to invite Coraline to stay in the Other World for good. She was waiting for the moment Coraline would come in person. And it's also why she wasn't bothered when Coraline refused to have buttons sewn onto her eyes, because she was certain she wouldn't be able to escape.
    • Perhaps it's not that exactly. But the third visit taking place during the day is absolutely significant. Coraline herself thought she was dreaming before. But visiting in the day, she realized it was all real, and the Other Mother knew, and felt it was the right time to spring the proposal on her, now that Coraline thinks the dream could come true. Why doesn't Coraline leave when she sleeps that time? Simple. The Other Mother doesn't want to give her the chance to leave the Other World behind. She could sense Coraline's unease, and likely feared that Coraline would never return to the Other World if she ever got back home. This is why she takes Coraline's parents; to call her back when she does escape. Keeping Coraline there was her best bet to win Coraline's agreement to the deal.
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  • At one point, the Other Mother says "They say even the proudest spirit can be broken, with love." Then you realize who "they" is: she's quoting herself from the book.
  • Notice how the Other Wybie doesn't wear any reflective stickers on his jacket, or his skull helmet? They're part of his ensemble as a rider on his little motorcycle, which Coraline hates because it took her by surprise. So they don't exist in the Other World, as a sign that he doesn't have the motorcycle.
  • Towards the end of the Exploration scene, Coraline lists off what she finds in the final room to explore: "One boring blue boy in a painfully boring painting, four incredibly boring windows, and no more doors." It takes a while to catch on: this leads in to how there is ''one more door'' to find...
  • Contrast the song Coraline's dad sang during dinner with the Other Father's song. Her real father is horribly overworked. Coraline would like more of his weird little songs but he never has time anymore.
    • There are lots of little things that reflect the specialness of their relationship. Coraline's crooked nose mirrors her dad's, and his favorite color is blue.
    • During that dinner when he sang his little song, the little doll was there. In other words, the Other Mother spied on their meal time, saw Coraline's father singing, and made the Other Father a great singer.
    • As further proof, Coraline sings the real father's song to comfort herself as she goes to dispose of the key.
  • Mel's (Coraline's mother) favorite snowglobe is the one from the Detroit Zoo. The only photo showing the family together and happy was taken at the Detroit Zoo.
  • If you pause the movie when Wybie shows Coraline the picture of his Gramma and her sister, you can see that his Grandma's sister , the Cute Ghost Girl, is slouching in a curve, and looking at the camera bashfully. Just like Wybie — he takes after her!
  • When Ms. Forcible is reading Coraline's tea leaves, she sees a hand-like shape, but Ms. Spink turns it upside down and insists it's a giraffe. They're both right — not only is a stuffed giraffe one of the toys we see in Coraline's room in the Other Mother's house, but the shape Ms. Spink sees also resembles the Other Mother's severed, claw-like hand.
    • Notice how the Other Mother's final form is very long and has 4 legs like a giraffe...
    • The "handsome beast" could mean the cat. Although it isn't particularly tall... the voice actor, Keith David, certainly is.
  • Literally everything from the real apartment has an Other World counterpart. Even the VW Beetle, which appears to not be present, is actually there in the form of the praying mantis the Other Father rides.
  • The Other Mother never eats. While the Other Father's plate is always piled with food, the Other Mother's plate is always empty at meal times, chocolate-bug snacks notwithstanding. Very subtle way of showing the Other Mother cannot sustain herself on her own creations and that they're at most an illusion. She can only feed on the love of others.
    • The one time she does eat, she's eating writhing bugs. Chocolate-covered or not, it highlights her spider theme and is one of several examples of how poorly she understands Coraline. Also, she offers them to Coraline as a treat, but makes a point of eating one, presumably to prove that they're okay to eat and won't hurt Coraline. Unfortunately for the Other Mother, the safety of the food probably wasn't Coraline's immediate concern.
  • The Other Mother's final form resembles a spider. Several species of spiders are known to eat their offspring. And then, of course, there's trap door spiders, which pull their prey through self-built trap doors that blend in with their surroundings...
    • On that note, in the film at least, the Other Mother straps the Other Father to a giant praying mantis. Female praying mantises are famous for eating their own mates, as are some female spiders.
  • For a while, it seemed off that Coraline had a rash from the Poison Oak branch on only one hand, but in the scene where Wybie shakes her hand, he accidentally smeared mud on the unaffected hand.
  • If one listens to the lyrics of the song the Other Father sings more closely, they appear to be actually warning Coraline about what will happen if she continues coming to the Other World.
  • The movie changes from Coraline having to save the souls of the children to having to save their eyes. Seems like a minor change, maybe to keep religion out of the issue, right? Well, consider that some believe that one's eyes are a reflection/gateway to their soul. Also keep in mind, the Other Mother replaces eyes with buttons. And the implication is that agreeing to give up one's eyes for buttons is the equivalent of selling your soul to the Other Mother!
  • During Other Spink and Other Forcible's presentation for Coraline, their button eyes are white. Remember how the real Spink and Forcible argued about being blind? However, when they strip and become younger, their button eyes are black.
  • The Other Mother swears by her right hand that she'll allow Coraline to leave... and that's exactly what she loses trying to keep Coraline in the Other House.
  • The Other Mother ended up being a Giant Spider-like monster woman. The holes in the button eyes can be looked at as eyes themselves. 4 holes in each button make 8 eyes, the same as spiders have.
  • The Other Mother hates cats. Take a good look at her face in her final form. Just how do you think she got all those scratches?
    • Also, a lot of cats like to catch and eat spiders if they find them...
  • The bat forms of Ms. Forcible and Ms. Spink's dogs don't make any sense until you realize that their dead real-word counterparts also have wings. This is a reverse example of the film's theme of the Other World creatures' true forms matching the real world, as the bats were in the book, but not the real ladies' dead dogs and their angel costumes.
    • It may also be a reference to the argument the real Spink and Forcible made regarding their eyesight...
    Miss Forcible: Oh give me that cup, April! Your eyes are going!
    Miss Spink: My eyes!? You're blind as a bat!
  • Why are the Others Wybie and Father helping Coraline and not anything/anyone else? Because, everything in the Other World was made to entertain Coraline and nothing more—except for Other Father and Other Wybie, who were created to love her and be her friend.
  • The Other Father calls the Other Mother "Mother." It's not just because the Other Mother means to replace Coraline's real mother in the girl's eyes, it's because the Other Mother created him. In a sense, she really is his mother! (Can add another layer of horror to how she mutilates and/or destroys her own "children".)
  • The first plants Coraline notices in the garden? Pitcher plants, which lure insects in with sweet nectar and then trap and devour them.
  • Note the position of the Other Mother the second time Coraline falls asleep and leaves the Other World: she occupies the exact same spot as the doll.
  • When Coraline asks for a clue as to her parent's location, the Other Mother merely taps her eye, causing Coraline to angrily respond "Fine, don't tell me." But that was the clue — Coraline needed to look closer, because her parents had been hidden right in plain sight!
  • The Other World has subtle ways of showing it's a Mirror Universe. Wybie and Coraline's dad in the real world are totally useless at helping her or giving her advice, thinking she's just acting out for attention or is plain nuts. Wybie is even the one who gives her the doll which starts the whole mess. The "other Wybie" and "other father" are the only two characters created by the Beldam who try to warn Coraline (and help her where they can) of the dangers and they both intentionally let slip important information.
    • Likewise, Bobinski and Spink & Forcible are the only ones in the real world who tell Coraline she is in danger and give her useful advice and at least one tool that will help her. The otherworld versions of the above three are the secondary antagonists who outright try to stop Coraline from succeeding.
    • And is it any wonder the story turns on its head, mirroring itself, right after a scene involving the Other World's hall mirror?
  • The Other Spink and Forcible both have an Impossible Hourglass Figure, at least when they shuck their old lady suits. If you look in their apartment, their Other selves look a lot like the stylized versions of themselves on their old posters. Which makes sense; Coraline has no idea how the two actually looked when younger (and the Other Mother, who created them, might not either), so the idealized versions of them are based on the best visual reference available.
  • As Coraline lies in bed after seeing the Other Mouse Circus, the Other Mother, Father, and Wybie are there. What does the Other Mother do right as Coraline falls asleep? She shushes the Other Father. Which might not make sense at first, until one remembers that on her previous visit the Other Father, almost immediately upon meeting Coraline, seemed to try to warn her with a song, and the Other Mother continues to struggle with censoring his subtle rebellions.
  • After Coraline's second visit she goes to see the door because bits of the mice bait was still on the floor, proving her dreams were real. However, Mel locks the door claiming to have found "rat crap" and wanted Coraline to feel safe. Later on the cat in the other world hunts one of the circus mice and when he kills it, it turns into a rat. Seems Coraline's mother has had some experience with rats enough to know what their feces looks like, even though Coraline was convinced they were mice.
  • The Other Mother's line "I'll die without you!!" Sounds melodramatic at first, but knowing what she does to the kids that she gets bored of...It has a double meaning since if she doesn't eat the kid she'll starve to death. And with how long has she been without food... no wonder she's desperate.
  • Beldam, the name given to the Other Mother by the Ghost Children, can both mean hag, or witch, but is also an anagram of Bad Mel (Mel being the name of Coraline's mother.) More likely a case of deliberate name choice for Mrs. Jones when they made the film, as she does not have the name in the book.
  • Near the end, the Other Father starts to resemble a pumpkin, which is probably what the Other Mother made him from—sort of a creepy, Body Horror-style twist on the Fairy Godmother turning a pumpkin into a carriage to satisfy a little girl wanting more.
  • The Other Mother's face near the end of the movie has cracks on it, the same cracks that you'd typically see on broken porcelain or clay. It's a visual way of showing how the Other Mother's "mask" (specifically one put up to fool young children) as a loving parent is falling apart as Coraline begins to see her true character.
  • Near the end of the movie, the Other Mother calls Coraline a "selfish brat". In the scene where Coraline found the Ghost Children, the spirits told her that they were given love, good food, toys, and never-ending fun by the Other Mother, only to end up wanting more. In real life, children require unconditional love from their parents and tend to heavily rely on them for guidance. The children the Other Mother lured in to trap and eat them might have seen her as their real parent and expected her to act like one. No wonder the Other Mother thinks children are all-take-and-no-give!
  • Just a minor observation: In the opening cutscene, where the Sweet Ghost Girl's doll gets remade into the Coraline doll; the stuffing gets pulled out of the doll, it gets turned inside out, and filled with sand. When Coraline's Other World begins to deteriorate later on, we see that everything appears to actually be made of sand. So perhaps, whatever a person's doll was filled with is the substance their Other World ends up being made of.
  • On reflection, the film is similar to the legend of Faust. Both main characters are dissatisfied with what they have. The Other Mother is pratically an expy of the devil in the legend in that she gives Coraline her desires. It's only when she offers buttons for her eyes is when Coraline realizes that she made a Deal with the Devil.
  • In the beginning of the film, Wybie said that the cat would visit him a lot. Considering the cat knows about the Other World, it's likely that he does so to protect Wybie from it.
  • A blink and you miss it moment — when Coraline enters the circus tent to retrieve the last ghost eye, the Other Mr. B (or what's left of him) briefly takes on a decidedly ratlike pose.
  • A tiny hint that the Other Mother has no intentions of holding up her end of the bargain is that she offers her hand to be shaken, but is interrupted by Coraline asking for a hint, after which she leaves. So the two never shake on the deal, showing that the contract won't play out to its conditions.
  • Even with all the perks and promises given by the Other Mother, the movie still presents the Squick of sewing buttons in your eyes as an obvious dealbreaker. Coraline is automatically aghast at the suggestion, raising the question of why three other children wouldn't have had the same reaction. Then you remember that the ghost children grew up in completely different eras to Coraline; where sexism, racism, and classism were heavily detrimental to a child's quality of life. To say nothing of the possibility that, unlike Coraline, their home lives could have been actually abusive and not just plagued with moving stress. Their fantasy worlds wouldn't have just been refuges from negligent parents, but from abusive ones, or an abusive society. They would have had far more reason than Coraline to be desperate for a better life, making their fates even more of a Tear Jerker. Also, social awareness and education has changed, with more emphasis put on stranger danger. Coraline just fell into the pitfall of believing that an apparent fairy tale would be excepted from that.
  • It is clear from the book (and directly stated in the movie) that Coraline wishes her parents would pay more attention to her. Now on the foreground, the Other Mother merely pretends to pay attention to Coraline in order to entrap her. But some bits of interaction (the unwanted hugging, the "learn to be a loving daughter" and such) give the Other Mother a behaviour typical for Abusive Parents, specifically of My Beloved Smother — which often happens if parents pay too much (unhealthy) attention to kids. Coraline really got what she desired — and it was horrible for her, on top of the whole evil Fairy stuff.
  • The phrase "Beldam" may be a reference to "La Belle Dame Sans Merci (The Beautiful Woman Without Mercy)", a poem about a knight charmed and abandoned by the titular dangerous fairy. So does that mean that the Beldam does not necessarily prey only on children?
    • The word "beldam" is an archaic term for "witch" that long predates the poem, and in the film, the door is a crawlspace best suited to children, so probably not.
  • The "Paragon of Animals" bit from Other Forcible and Other Spink. It's a reference to Hamlet, but the original has a very, very sarcastic tone and doesn't cut off at the word animal. It ends with "...and yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust?" What is Other Wybie made out of, and what does his hand revert to when it goes beyond Other Mother's threshold?
  • Where was the Other Mother when Mel was shopping for groceries and Coraline went to the Other World? The Other Mother left the invitation to (Other) Spink and Forcible's show and the outfit, but she was missing herself. Presumably, she was out getting Coraline's parents. Coraline goes back and they're gone...
  • The Ghost Eye hidden in the Theater is disguised as a pearl on a ring. Why a pearl? Well, it's on the Other Forcible's finger, and her character in the play was heavily associated with oysters.
  • There are theories that Coraline just delivered the hand and the key right back to the Other Mother by dropping it down that well...after all, it's in a fairy ring and you can apparently see stars from inside, like those the doll was sent into...but there's no Other well. Coraline mentions it specifically. The Other World is always night, and fairy rings can be protected zones, too. That key (the only one) can never be used again.
    • Counter argument: The theory doesn't need to rely on an Other Well as there is no need for one. Think of the way the doll exits the Other World: it exits the window and floats through space. That's seemingly impossible though, right? The Other World isn't actually in space for all we know. So where was this? Well, Wybie's grandma did say that if you fell through the well you could see stars during the middle of the day, after all... In other words, the doll wasn't floating through space- it was through water.
  • The Other Mother's starvation makes perfect sense with two offhand details that explain her history: the age of the Pink Palace and the old photograph of the Lovat sisters. Mr. Jones mentions the house is 150 years old, and we see the Other Mother claimed three victims prior to the film, within that 150-year period. According to fairy-tale rules which this film would definitely follow, that would mean she has an exact cycle of feeding once every fifty years, and the Ghost Children's apparent time periods seem to fit that rule if "year zero" was when the first victim was taken. She can survive between without feeding, but that mark needs to be met, like IT's 27-year rule. But Gramma Lovat, who was around the same age as her sister as seen in the photo (where they couldn't have been more than ten), is elderly. It's clearly been more than fifty years since her sister was taken, and thanks to her efforts, no children have come in in the years since. That means Coraline is overdue. The Other Mother has had to hold on for perhaps twenty years longer than she expected to in order to feed again. That's why she's starving so quickly and why she's so desperate. That's why she gives up the act and the Other World falls to pieces. Coraline is quite literally her last chance, and she's a late one at that. She has broken the cycle beyond repair.
  • In both the book and the film, the Other Spink and Forcible end up fused together. This signifies that they are interchangeable and more akin to one entity controlled by the Other Mother rather than two separate puppets.
  • The Other Mother's outfits in the film become progressively darker in color and weirder in shape, yes, but they also become more glamorous. While she starts out in a copy of Mel's wardrobe, she is never seen in it again, taking on darker, more chic colors and then wearing classy party dresses. In essence, her outfits are becoming progressively less "mom-ish", less maternal and comforting, showing that she's not the doting mother she claims to be.
  • When Coraline goes back to the Other World for her parents, the Other Mother pulls off a perfect disguise of Mel, with real eyes, to lure her in. While it seems bizarre that she wouldn't have used that kind of magic from the start to feel more real and comforting, it makes sense why she wouldn't. Her conditions are that you take the buttons to join them, and without her knowing about the buttons in the Other World before, it would be confusing, and even more alarming if she revealed the button eyes on everyone after Coraline believed they were more normal. The perfect disguise works as a trick in her book, but in the long-term plan, it would have no benefit to her.

Fridge Horror

  • The little circus ball that the mice use in the Other World during that cute and entertaining sequence? That's the sweet ghost girl's soul.
  • The fact that everything in the Other World seems to be made of the same thing. The entire time in the Other World, whatever Coraline was eating was... probably not actually food.
  • As well as being brilliance, the Other Father's song counts for sounding cheery and innocent, but being pretty creepy when one examines the lyrics: "Making up a song about Coraline. She's a peach she's a DOLL she's a pal of mine. She's as cute as a BUTTON IN THE EYES of everyone who ever laid their eyes on Coraline. When she comes around exploring Mom and I will never ever make it boring. OUR EYES WILL BE ON CORALINE."
    • "Our eyes will be on Coraline" is a particularly clever lyric because it has a triple meaning: If you don't know the sinister turn things will take later, it sounds like he's just saying that Coraline will have their full attention, something that she feels she lacks from her real parents. Then there's the already pointed out Literal Metaphor aspect, since The Other Mother wants to sew button eyes onto Coraline's face, and the fact that Coraline has been unknowingly watched via button eyes from the very beginning.
    • When Coraline tells her father the food is ready, the piano raises its hand and slaps the Other Father. Could've just been a goofy accident... could've been the piano telling him off for trying to warn Coraline, like how it tries to shut him up later.
  • When the Other Mother introduces Other Wybie to Coraline, she mentions that she "fixed" him (with a Sewn On Grin), given that Coraline thinks the Wybie in her own world talks too much. While Coraline's lack of concern about this (before things start getting worse) probably results more from thoughtlessness than blatant desire to control, it underlines how nasty the other world is — the Other Wybie had his voice taken away simply because Coraline didn't like it. The whole thing resembles The Stepford Wives, in a kids' movie.
  • Since the Other Mother has a mother in the book, she can procreate. But species that procreate are rarely single. There could be more "other mothers" around... it might be that she wasn't lying when she told Coraline everyone has one.
    • And if they procreate the same way real spiders do...
  • The Beldam's world seems to be reserved for children lacking something vital in the real world, such as having an unhappy home life. If Sweet Ghost Girl had an unhappy life, there's two possibles for her sister — Wybie's grandmother. First, she shared in her sister's misery and was either ignored by the Beldam, left to her sad home life, or she was also ensnared by the Beldam, but managed to escape. Second, she was the favorite of their parents who were either neglectful or abusive to her sister. In short, either Wybie's grandmother lived through something that cost her her sister, or she believes her own favor with their parents drove her away.
  • When Coraline finds the door, she asks, "I wonder why it's so small?". The door was just tall enough for the doll to walk through it. And for children. Also, it makes Mel's theory that the door connected to another residential space seem unlikely. Why would two rooms be connected by such a small door? And what could it lead to instead?
    • The only "other room" we haven't seen in the real world is the dark, damp cellar-type room we saw the Ghost Kids being held up in.
  • The bed that the Ghost Children hide in has a large puddle in the middle. They have literally wet the bed with fear.
  • Wybie said that his grandmother, Mrs. Lovat, never rents the Pink Palace to families with children. Why now did she decide to rent it out to a family with a child? Well, Wybie's the same age as Coraline and he loves to wander around, sometimes a little too close to the Pink Palace. Wybie is just a susceptible child as Coraline was to being lured to the Other World. Is it then, out of fear over her kin, she rented out the flat to a family with a kid, to use as a scapegoat?
  • Even though Coraline disposed of the key (hopefully for eternity), the Other World is still there in the house and only a single locked door away. Coraline will continue to go to bed at night in a room more or less directly above the doorway to a nightmare creature that tried to enslave her. Even if the beldam withered away and died after Coraline's escape, nobody in their right mind should want to remain in the same country, let alone the same house as that door.
  • The doll gets creepier the more you think about it. Yeah, its creepy button eyes allow it to spy, but it gets truly horrible when you realize they also make it an accurate representation of what the children will look like when the Other Mother is done with them. Not only does it show how the Other Mother hopes the children will soon look, but it also furthers the idea of her viewing the children as nothing more than toys to play with and toss aside. Also, the doll gets left behind for the family to see until it's called away again. It's as if a serial killer left behind a doll of a child, bearing the same terrible murder wounds that the child had...but in this case, only the Other Mother knows that, and everyone else sees it as an innocent toy.

Fridge Logic

  • Coraline is charged with finding the eyes of the three ghost children. Her mission is complete after retrieving only three eyes, which begs the question of why each ghost child has two buttons if they are all suffer from cyclopia. Apparently they were symbolic eyes, not literal ones, unless the balls were just containers for the eyes.
  • Although one can speculate, it's never actually explained why Wybie's grandmother, who doesn't allow families with children to live at the Pink Palace, let Coraline and her family move in.

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