Follow TV Tropes

Following

Western Animation / Coraline

Go To

https://static.tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pub/images/coraline_xlg.png
Trust us, sometimes Light Is Not Good when you go Down the Rabbit Hole.

"You could stay here forever, if you want to. There's just one tiny little thing we need to do..."
Other Mother
Advertisement:

The Film of the Book of Coraline, animated by Laika in their solo feature debut, and adapted and directed by Henry Selick (of The Nightmare Before Christmas and James and the Giant Peach fame). It was released on February 6, 2009, and was the first Stop Motion movie filmed with a 3-D camera (however, the 3-D showings were only in limited locations for a few weeks).

Coraline Jones (Dakota Fanning) moves from Pontiac, Michigan with her mother and father to the Pink Palace Apartments, an old house subdivided into three residences, in Ashland, Oregon. With her parents frantically working on a gardening catalog in order to make ends meet, and thus not paying much attention to her, Coraline begins to feel neglected. While exploring the house, she discovers a small door with a brick wall behind it. That night, she is awoken by a mouse in her room, which she chases to the small door. She opens it, but instead of a brick wall, she finds a long, glowing passage, leading to another world.

Advertisement:

At the other end, Coraline finds herself in the "Other World", which is inhabited by her "Other Mother" (Teri Hatcher) and "Other Father", (John Hodgman) idealized doubles of her parents (except for the black buttons sewn into their eyes) who pay close attention to Coraline and spoil her with treats. After enjoying a home-cooked meal made by the Other Mother, she spends the night in the Other World and awakens back in her bed in the real world.

Coraline continues to go to the Other World at night and is entertained by the various delights present, including idealized versions of her neighbors, a beautiful garden built in her image, and delicious food. Coraline begins to prefer the Other World to her real one, finding that her Other Parents give her all the love and attention she lacks at home. Eventually, the Other Mother offers to let Coraline stay in their world forever, on one condition:

Advertisement:

She has to have buttons sewn into her eyes.

When she refuses, things quickly take a dark turn as the Other Mother attempts to force Coraline to stay in her world. Coraline must rely on her bravery and wits to get back home.


The film contains the following examples:

    open/close all folders 

    A-F 
  • Abominable Auditorium: The Other World has its own theater run by the Other Miss Spink and the Other Miss Forcible; it seems a little bit on the grotesque side at first, given that the audience is composed entirely of dogs, while the only two performers are two old ladies performing a Bawdy Song and getting into a fight onstage — up until the Other Spink and Forcible unzip their skins and reveal their beautiful true selves in an impressive display of acrobatics. It's actually yet another one of the Other Mother's attempts to lure Coraline to her death; in the finale, as the glamour surrounding the other world breaks down, the theater becomes a haunting ruin, the audience has become a menacing flock of bat-dogs hanging from the ceilings, and the Other Spink and Forcible have been merged into a nightmarish taffy-like fusion.
  • Accidental Misnaming: In the real world, all the neighbors call the titular character "Caroline", which she hates. One of the more subtle appealing differences of the Other World is that everybody says her name correctly.
  • Act of True Love: After the Other Mother imprisons Coraline in a mirror, the Other Wybie drags Coraline out and shoves her through the door leading to her world, even though he can't follow her without turning to dust and is at the mercy of the Other Mother in his own world. The Other Mother created him to be Coraline's friend, and he chooses to protect her even at the cost of defying his creator. It costs him his life.
  • Acrofatic: Bobinsky is rather round of torso, but skinny of limb, and is able to jump straight off a three story (possibly higher) balcony and land without injury.
  • Adaptational Attractiveness:
    • In the film, the Other Mother starts off looking exactly like Coraline's mother, but with button-eyes, then transforms into a creepier, taller, skinnier form. The book has her in the latter form from the start.
    • Inverted later in the film as well. The Other Mother's final form doesn't look anywhere near so monstrous in the book.
  • Adaptation Dye-Job: Literally. In the book, Coraline has brown hair. In the film, her hair is blue, but a picture of Coraline when she was younger has her with brown hair, implying it's dyed in-universe, which seems consistent with her fashion sense.
  • Adaptation Expansion: Gaiman himself requested this trope. He saw that the original script was almost exactly like the book, and told them to make some changes. After all, if someone wanted something exactly like the book, they could just read the book.
    • The Other World is introduced more slowly across multiple visits before the creepiness kicks in. In the book, most of the Other World is covered in Coraline's first visit, and the button-eye proposal is made at the end of that first visit.
    • The garden is utterly insignificant to the book. It's been promoted to a wonder of the Other World here, and during the hunt for the ghost children it's guarded by the Other Father. In the book version of the hunt, the Other Father is closed off in a basement in the empty flat, which ends up as a dead end.
    • The new character of Wybie is there to help explain some of the backstory of the place, and later give Coraline a person to express her thoughts to so she doesn't have to talk to herself.
    • The Coraline doll is shown to be a tool of the Other Mother who uses it to stalk her victims. The beginning even shows her repurposing the previous design to remake it in Coraline's form.
    • More backstory is given to Coraline and her parents, explaining why they ignore her so much and why she would be willing to abandon them for a dream world so casually.
    • It's mentioned that the Other Mother can only shape existing materials in the book, but the movie makes this more apparent, with the denizens of the Other World being inanimate objects that are connected in some way to the real people they turn into, and slowly deteriorating into those inanimate forms as the Other Mother's control slips.
    • The history of the Other Mother is shown to have an existing human connection in the form of Mrs. Lovat, the landlady, whose sister was the Other Mother's most recent victim.
  • Adaptational Location Change: This version of Coraline takes place in the United States instead of England.
  • Adaptational Timespan Change: In the book, the first visit to the Other World covers most of its highlights and includes the Other Mother's proposal for Coraline to stay. The film, with its greater length, extends the establishment of the Other World across multiple visits interspersed with the real world's counterparts being established in between, leaving the proposal to stay as a more pronounced midway turning point for the story.
  • Adaptational Villainy: In order to make it more obvious why Coraline abandons her parents so willingly, in the movie both of her parents are more actively neglectful than in the book because of work-induced stress, needing to finish a big project just to make ends meet. Whereas in the book they simply don't pay much attention to her, in the movie her mother is loudly frustrated at Coraline's interruptions, and brushes her off.
  • Adapted Out:
    • The book implies that the door led to an empty apartment which was bricked off, and the last third includes scenes in the Other empty apartment, particularly its basement and bedroom. None of these points are in the last third of the film, as the garden replaces the bedroom and cellar in one.
    • The tunnel passageway Coraline traverses each time to get into the Other World has a physical presence in the book, and is fleshy and covered in fur the last time she goes through it. It is something that Coraline suspects is far older and more dangerous than the Other Mother, and so cannot control. This isn't mentioned in the movie but for a mention that the Other Mother didn't make the passageway herself.
  • Advertising by Association: The movie was promoted as "From the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas", leading many people believe that the movie is by Tim Burton. Actually, it's Henry Selick who directed both movies, and Burton was only the producer of The Nightmare Before Christmas, and had no involvement in Coraline.
  • The Alcoholic: Coraline's mother gives this as the reason for Mr. Bobinsky's eccentricity, which Coraline denies, though it's never made clear whether either is right. He's never shown drinking.
  • Always Night: The Other World is like this here, whereas it reflects the time of day in the real world in the book.
  • Amazing Technicolor Population: Mr. Bobinsky. It is implied via the medal he wears that his blue skin (and possibly eccentric disposition) is due to being one of the Liquidators who cleaned up Chernobyl.
  • Ambiguously Brown: Wybie is a light-skinned African-American boy with brown curly hair. It's possible he's mixed-race; his grandmother is more obviously Black. In a deleted scene, Coraline asks Wybie if his grandmother is Black, which Wybie confirms. His voice actor is Black as well.
  • Anachronism Stew: The film is apparently set in the present day, as shown by the car and Coraline's mother's laptop. However, her father works on a computer that seems to come from the '80s.
  • An Aesop: There's no place like home... even if it doesn't seem enjoyable at first.
  • Apologetic Attacker: The Other Father is forced into controlling the garden mantis to attack Coraline, and he apologizes while doing so.
  • Arachnid Appearance and Attire: The Other Mother looks increasingly spider-like as the film progresses. As it crumbles, the last bits of the Other World even turn into a web filled with "insects"!
  • Arc Symbol: A thin and bony hand, which appears not just in the opening, but also in a flash of lightning during Coraline's first trip to the Other Mother's world and then in Coraline's tea leaves the day after.
  • Arc Words: The Other Mother uses the word "pumpkin" several times when referring to the Other Father. As his body disintegrates, he starts to revert into the form of an actual pumpkin. The Other Mother wasn't just being cute...
  • Argument of Contradictions: Miss Spink and Miss Forcible have a couple of these.
  • Ascend to a Higher Plane of Existence: This happens at the end when Coraline releases the souls of the ghost children and they go to some kind of heavenly afterlife.
  • Bad Samaritan: The Other Mother spies on unhappy children and lures them into the Other World where she showers them with their greatest desires, but it's just a trap to lure them into a false sense of security before she ultimately eats them.
  • Bat Out of Hell: The Other Spink and Forcible's dog audience turns into bat creatures when things get dark, serving as a parallel to the angel costumes the real ladies' dogs get when they die. Coraline weaponizes the bat-dogs' aggression to hold off the Other Spink and Forcible monster.
  • Bawdy Song: The "Sirens of the Sea" segment is essentially a "tits vs. ass" song with each "siren" extolling the virtues of said body parts in seducing men. And it's sung by half-naked old women, one of whom has a pair of ridiculously massive breasts. Coraline's response sums up how the parents must feel when they see this.
    Coraline: Oh my God!
  • Be Careful What You Wish For: The main moral of the story. Coraline wishes she had different parents, one who dote on her, and she gets that. It just so happens that her Other Parents are horrific monsters.
  • Beneath the Mask: Horribly shown with the Other Mother after we discover the real reason she invited Coraline to her world.
  • Big Bad: The Other Mother is the main villain, trying to trap Coraline in a deadly world.
  • Big Creepy-Crawlies: The last touch of whimsy we see in the Other World is the Other Mother's transformation of the living room, with insect decor and living bug furniture. Word of God is that this is a misguided extrapolation of Coraline's dragonfly hair clips, which the Other Mother takes as her being a "bug enthusiast".
  • Big Damn Heroes: Wybie triumphantly arrives just in time to rescue Coraline from the Other Mother, though he crashes his bike and must work with Coraline to finally defeat her.
  • Big Eater: With the exception of her father's cooking, Coraline eats quite a bit throughout the film.
  • Big "NO!":
    • Charlie Jones does this when Coraline accidentally erases all of his work on his computer.
    • Coraline lets one out when she loses the green stone to the rats and then the balcony she's on collapses.
  • Bigger on the Inside:
    • The Other Spink and Forcible's theater is absolutely massive compared to the exterior size of the house. Of course, the Other Mother created it, so normal laws of physics need not apply.
    • This also applies to the Other Mr. Bobinsky's circus tent.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: The Other Mother looks like the perfect mom, but is also a Yandere psychopath who collects and manipulates children to get their souls.
  • Bittersweet Ending: For Wybie's grandmother at least. Her twin sister still died, and has moved onto the afterlife thanks to Coraline freeing her soul. But it's implied that Coraline and Wybie will tell her what happened with the Other Door and the Other Mother starving, so she'll live with the peace of knowing that the children are safe and her sister was avenged. She ends the movie gardening with Coraline and the neighbors, showing she'll be less of a recluse.
  • Black-and-Gray Morality: Well, more like black and really-light/almost-white gray morality. Coraline begins as a grouchy girl frustrated with moving and her constantly busy parents, but gets better as the movie goes on. Her parents mean well but are tired and constantly overworked, Wybie is a good friend but socially awkward, and the neighbors are quirky, but overall good people. Even some of the Other Worlders are mostly good. Other Father and Other Wybie legitimately like and care for Coraline and help her, but are ultimately done in by Other Mother, the only truly evil character of the movie.
  • Black and Nerdy: Wybie is a geeky Black kid who is constantly bullied by Coraline.
  • Body Horror: This happens to the creations of the Other Mother once the Other World starts to come apart. It's a bit more surreal here than in the booknote , but no less frightening.
  • Bond Villain Stupidity: After she's been trapped in the Other World, Coraline tricks the Other Mother into opening the door back to the real world (under the pretense that her parents have been hidden there) to create an escape route. Since the Other Mother spends some time gloating about Coraline being stupid, Coraline is able to think quickly and distract her, escaping through the still-open door back to her home.
  • Bookends: The film begins and ends with a very similar pan over the Pink Palace Apartments.
  • Brick Joke:
    • The bowl of candy owned by Miss April Spink and Miss Miriam Forcible. It's later used to Coraline's advantage when she has to help the ghost children, save her parents, and stop the Beldam, as Spink and Forcible transform it into the stone with a hole in it that Coraline uses to find the ghost children's souls.
    • Overlapping with Book Ends, Coraline's first interaction with her mom has her accusing her of hating dirt despite writing about gardening for a living. Their last interaction in the movie has the mom admit her admitting to her daughter (and herself) that she was right about her aversion to dirt.
  • The Burlesque of Venus: The Other Miss Forcible's performance at the theater. Emphasis on "burlesque".
  • Canon Foreigner: Wyborne "Wybie" Lovat was added to the film so that understanding Coraline's thoughts would be easier and she wouldn't have to talk to herself to express them. A Mr. Lovat is briefly mentioned towards the end of the book, however, as a former tenant of the Pink Palace, so this is likely where his surname comes from.
  • Cats Are Magic: The black cat, who can talk in the Other World and acts as a sort of Mentor towards Coraline.
  • Cats Are Snarkers: Again, the black cat, voiced by Keith David in all his glory.
  • Cats Are Superior: Bingo, the black cat. Snarky, deadpan, aloof, insulting, arrogant — but willing to help in Coraline's time of need and vital to her confrontation with the Other Mother.
  • Cerebus Call-Back: In the third act, when the Other Mother is done trying to entice Coraline with the Other World, its previously enchanting and friendly sights and people turn twisted and threatening as they devolve into the materials from which they were created.
  • Changed My Mind, Kid: Wybie returns to help Coraline get rid of the black key and the Other Mother's right hand after dismissing her as crazy earlier.
  • Character Development: Coraline goes from a whiny, snarky, and rude kid to being more appreciative of what she has and kinder to her parents, neighbors, and Wybie.
  • Character Exaggeration: In the book, Mr. Bobo simply happens to be vaguely Slavic (Russia isn't even mentioned, actually); it's not even implied that he has an accent until Misses Spink and Forcible happen to talk about him near the end of the book. However, the movie makes Bobinsky extremely weird and extremely Russian.
  • Chekhov's Gun:
    • The control knob on the mantis-mobile, the circus ball the mice use, and the pearl on the Other Forcible's ring. Each contains the eyes of one of the previous victims of the Other Mother, which need to be taken back to the real world for them to have a happy afterlife.
    • The Other Mother's chicken oven mitt, which gets repurposed by the other Wybie to hide his disfigured Glasgow Smile.
    • Coraline's hat and garden shears. She uses the shears to cut herself loose from flowers that attack her in the final act, and takes out a swarm of bugs stealing her seeing stone by throwing her hat.
    • The snow globes on the Jones' mantelpiece. The Other Mother later hides the Jones parents in the Other copy of their favorite snow globe.
    • The deep well near the Pink Palace proves to be an excellent place to dispose of the key to the Other World and the remains of the Beldam's right hand.
    • The Other Father's piano. As he mentions, he only needs to wear the mechanical gloves, and it "plays him". At the end, he's been hooked up to the mantis vehicle and is forced to use it to attack Coraline by the mechanical gloves, which are now attached to it.
    • Wybie has a pair of tongs which he uses to hunt for banana slugs, and in the final encounter he uses them to snatch up the Other Mother's hand and take it off of Coraline.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: The cat starts out in a very minor role, but once he shows up in the Other World where he can speak, he becomes one of the most important characters.
  • Chess with Death: Coraline challenges the Other Mother to an exploring game: she'll search for the ghost children's hidden eyes and for her parents, and if she succeeds all of them will get to leave safely, but if she fails she'll have to stay with the Other Mother forever.
  • Child Eater: The Other Mother. It's how the ghost children died, and the same would have happened to Coraline if Other Wybie hadn't freed her from the mirror room the Other Mother locks her in after disobeying her.
  • Cloudcuckoolander: Wybie and Bobinsky are both rather strange and perhaps off-putting, though they're actually good people.
  • The Cloudcuckoolander Was Right:
    • When he first meets Coraline, Bobinsky tells her that the mice have warned for her "not to go into little door," and they called her "Coraline" rather than "Caroline" like all of her adult neighbors do. Coraline only realizes the reason for the warning when the Other Mother won't let her leave the Other World.
    • Coraline asks Wybie what made him change his mind when he didn't believe her earlier about the Other Mother and the Cat. The Cat went to him to get help.
  • Color Motifs: The real world is rather dreary in contrast to the much more vibrant Other World. Once the illusion falls apart, the color begins to drain from the Other World, and the real world becomes a bit more bright once Coraline realizes that it's her true home.
  • Cobweb of Disuse: There are a few in the Other Mother's workshop, as seen in the opening credits, implying the length of time since her last activity... and how long she can go without feeding.
  • Combat Pragmatist: Coraline. To escape the Other Mother, she throws the Cat at her face (which results in her buttons being torn off). Note that the Cat wasn't in on this plan.
  • Conspicuous Gloves: Wybie (and the Other Wybie). In real Wybie's case, it may be down to the fact he's seen riding a bike most of the time. That, and there's a poison oak bush near the Pink Palace. Later in the film, Other Wybie removes his glove to show Coraline he's just sawdust.
  • Cordon Bleugh Chef: Coraline's father cooks, and the first night, he serves up a sloppy serving of steamed vegetables. Also, Coraline's mother suggests they make a ketchup-mustard-salsa wrap for lunch after discovering that all they have left in the fridge are those ingredients.
  • Costume Porn: The costume designs are all amazing, and for miniatures no less! The models' clothes were made by a woman using the exact same techniques she would use for full-size costumes, but with to-scale needles the size of human hairs.
  • Crapsaccharine World: The Other World. At first glance, it seems to be a dream world that's far preferable to the dull real world, but once the Other Mother's magic starts wearing off, it starts becoming a nightmare world.
    Cat: You probably think this world is a dream come true... but you're wrong.
  • Crazy Cat Lady: Miss Spink and Miss Forcible are a variation: they have at least identical Scottish terriers who live with them. In fact, they love them so much that when they die, they have them stuffed, decorate them with angel costumes, and hang them from the ceiling. The Other Mother replicates this by having a huge audience of Scottish terriers for the Other Spink and Other Forcible's show. The "angel" element is reflected by having the dogs sprout bat wings when Coraline goes to recover the ghost eye hidden in the theater.
  • Creepy Child:
    • The ghost children, especially the one with her mouth frozen open in an expression of perpetual horror. Although they're actually quite nice.
    • The Other Wybie usually has a perpetual smile frozen on his face, which is more creepy when you find out that he's required to smile at all times.
  • Creepy Children Singing: The bulk of the soundtrack has children singing a melody in nonsense words.
  • Creepy Circus Music: At the end when Coraline visits the Other Bobinsky to retrieve a ghost eye from him, the music (not surprisingly) has a faint resemblance to circus music, but in a very creepy tone.
  • Creepy Doll: A doll modeled after Coraline's likeness shows up early on in the movie. The Other Mother uses it to spy on her prey, remaking it to match each of her victims.
  • Creepy Long Fingers: The Other Mother's final form has very skeletal hands, composed of sewing needles rather than actual hands with bones and skin. This is first seen at the opening where she remakes the doll, the only a part of her visible to the audience being her needle-hands.
  • Cute Approaches Camera: The black cat wakes up Coraline in this fashion, with his face right up in the camera and filling almost the entire frame.
  • Curse Cut Short: Charlie Jones asking Coraline for some magic mud.
    Charlie Jones: Do you have anymore of that magic mud? 'Cause I got a case of writer's rash, on my a—
    Mel Jones: Ah-hem!
  • Cute Mute: The Other Wybie is cute as a button, and he can't talk. Since Coraline thought that Wybie would be better if he never talked to her, the Other Mother makes Other Wybie do just that.
  • Dangerously Garish Environment: Downplayed and then inverted. The Other World is always at its most bright and colorful when Coraline is being enticed to stay, but when Coraline struggles and rejects the Other Mother, it becomes increasingly weird and sinister, especially once Coraline's game with the Other Mother starts in earnest. Eventually it starts decaying into grey stone, and then a White Void Room.
  • Darkest Hour: Coraline discovers the horrible truth about the Other Mother, but Wybie doesn't believe her, and her parents have disappeared, having been kidnapped by the Other Mother/Beldam.
  • Dark Is Evil: The Other World is in a constant state of nightfall, which makes things look pretty threatening in the third act during the exploring game, and the rooms are more dimly-lit in the climax than they were earlier.
  • Dark Is Not Evil: The black cat is Coraline's biggest helper while she's in the Other World.
  • Dark Reprise: "Alone" is the sadder version of the song played at the second half of "Installation".
  • Deadpan Snarker: Coraline and the cat, but especially the cat.
    Coraline: Wybie's got a cat like you at home. Not the quiet Wybie, the one that talks too much. You must be the other cat.
    The cat: No, I'm not the other anything. I'm me.
    Coraline: Um, I can see you don't have button eyes, but if you're the same cat, how can you talk?
    The cat: I just can.
    Coraline: Cats don't talk at home.
    The cat: No? (sarcastically) Well, you're clearly the expert on these things.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: As the Other Mother loses control of the Other World, the different zones become completely grayed out and eventually collapse into a white void. The Other Mother also loses color, lacking the red of her earlier outfits and her skin turning bone-white.
  • Design Student's Orgasm: For a stop-motion animated film, there's loads of stunning and masterfully done visuals here and there, especially in the scenes where the Other World starts to disappear.
  • Died Happily Ever After: After Coraline retrieves the eyes of the kids the Other Mother ate, they are freed from the Other World, and she later visits them in heaven. However, granted, by this time they're already dead, and when they actually died it was certainly not happy.
  • Double Entendre: When at the family dinner table, the Other Father makes a joke about the food to the Other Mother while saying grace.
    The Other Father: We give thanks and like to bless, our mother's golden chicken breast! (laughs)
  • Dramatically Missing the Point: The Other Mother is shown to do this a few times to add to the sense of otherworldly unease, and to show that she's not really as in touch with Coraline as she seems to be. For example, when Coraline asks her real mother if she can go outside, saying she doesn't mind the rain, the Other Mother misinterprets her indifference to the weather as a passion for rain, and suggests playing hide-and-seek in a thunderstorm. This is also shown by how child-inappropriate the Other Spink and Forcible's performance is, and the living room's insectile transformation (see Big Creepy-Crawlies above).
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Coraline goes through a lot, but in the end, she thwarts the Beldam, rescues her parents, and frees the souls of the ghost children. The Other World door is locked and the key is thrown down the old well, meaning the Beldam won't be able to prey on anyone else. Finally, her parents also complete their project, meaning they are able to spend a lot more time with her.
  • Eerie Pale-Skinned Brunette: The Other Mother has pale skin and black hair.
  • Either/Or Prophecy: Played with both times Coraline visits Miss Spink and Miss Forcible and they give her supernatural advice. With each visit, they present conflicting pronouncements about Coraline's situation, and each time one of them makes a significant claim...yet the other also gives a valid, if less pertinent answer:
    • When reading the tea leaves, Miss Spink sees a "very peculiar hand" crawling around, and indeed, peculiar hands are a feature of the Other Mother, and one of them detaches and causes problems for Coraline later. Miss Forcible sees a giraffe, which is less relevant, to be sure, but one of the toys in the Other bedroom is part-giraffe.
    • When giving Coraline the adder stone, Miss Spink says it's for "bad things", and Miss Forcible says it's for "lost things". Forcible is closer, as it is able to highlight the hidden ghost eyes when looked through, but by that point, the entire situation is "bad things", so Spink isn't entirely wrong.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Coraline may be less than happy with her boring family, but she would gladly take them over family that wants to sew buttons over her eyes.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: The Other Bobinsky doesn't understand why Coraline would want to reject the Other Mother's False Utopia in favor of rescuing her supposedly boring, neglectful parents.
  • Exact Words: The Other Mother offers Coraline a chance to stay in the Other World forever. We see three children who were given that chance before. They are ghosts now, having been killed by the Other Mother and gotten stuck haunting the Other World for seeming eternity.
  • Eyeless Face: The Other Mother at the end after the buttons are clawed from her eye sockets.
  • Eye Scream:
    • "Black is traditional... But if you'd prefer pink... or vermilion... or chartreuse... Though you might make me jealous!" The fact that there's a needle next to the buttons makes it that much worse.
    • Ironically, the Other Mother herself loses her button eyes, blinding her.
  • Facial Horror: While button eyes are traditionally a more quirky or off-beat style for a doll, they're exploited for horror here, as they're the symbol of the Other Mother's control, and the process of getting the eyes is treated as horrific in-universe.
  • The Fair Folk: The Other Mother is no sparkling winged fairy, but she is heavily implied to be one of the Fair Folk. Her habit of luring away children to another world is reminiscent of changeling myths, and her creating the denizens of the Other World out of mundane objects like rats and pumpkins recalls the Fairy Godmother in Cinderella. In addition, her weakness for games and challenges is a common trait of the faerie.
  • False Utopia: The Other World looks like an idealized, magical copy of the real world, where you'll be spoiled with endless enjoyment and attention, and anything you dream of can come true... but to stay forever, you must have buttons sewn into your eyes, and you will be devoured and forgotten by the being calling herself your "other mother".
  • Fan Disservice:
    • The beginning half of the Other Spink and Forcible's stage play... ugh. Both of the old women are practically naked, with only their nipples and crotch covered up. No amount of Brain Bleach will ever clear that out of your mind.
    • Also, when the Other Mother transforms, her shirt becomes very low-cut, but since she's so hideous and emaciated with her ribs exposed, it's not all that attractive.
  • Fanservice: When the Other Miss Spink and Miss Forcible transform into their younger selves, they are young, skinny attractive women doing a trapeze act.
  • Faux Affably Evil: The Other Mother is not as friendly as she first appears.
  • Fire-Forged Friends: Coraline and Wybie bond by fighting off the Other Mother's detached but still animate hand.
  • Fisher King: During Coraline's first visit to the Other World, the Other Mother suggests having fun playing in the rain; when Coraline points out that there's no rain to speak of, lightning flashes in the next instant and suddenly it's pouring like a hastily edited-in detail. The Other Mother is later established to be the Domain Holder of the Other World; during Coraline's second visit, the Other Father surreptitiously suggests that the Other Mother is giving energy to the world as well as shape — "Her strength is our strength." — but the piano shushes him before he can go on.
  • Food Porn: The dinner/breakfast/food scenes in the Other World, despite the fact that the foods are fake, are mouthwatering. It's all part of the Other Mother's temptations, of course...
  • Foreshadowing: The movie is saturated with omens of things to come.
    • The first thing the Other Mother says when she meets Coraline the first time is that she's "just in time for supper". She means that for herself, as she plans to devour Coraline's essence. It's also implied that Coraline is a bit overdue on the Other Mother's feeding schedule, making her arrival timely indeed for the Other Mother.
    • The words in the Other Father's song become much more sinister and foreboding once you find out he and the Other Mother want to put buttons in her eyes. It very vaguely regains its happiness when you realize it's a warning to Coraline of what's coming for her. It doesn't work, but hey, he can say he tried...
    • The Other Mother refers to her husband as "pumpkin". He turns into a pumpkin-like beast in the last act. It's most likely that the Other Father was originally a pumpkin from the garden that gradually reverts back to its true form as the world starts to unravel; most other creations of the Other Mother end up seeming to have been appropriated from various flotsam like the rats and bugs.
    • During the meal scenes in the Other World, the Other Father and Coraline are happy to eat the food that's offered to them, but the Other Mother's plate is always empty. That's because she feeds on something entirely different.
    • The lightning strike that takes place during the first dinner scene takes the form of a hand, specifically the needle-like hands from the doll-making scene at the start. The lightning strike only takes place after Coraline points out there's no weather to speak of after the Other Mother mentions going out to play in the rain, signifying the control she has over the Other World.
    • In the Other House's dining room, there's three frames, each with the silhouette portrait of a child in them. These are the three children who were lured in and killed by the Other Mother before, and are now in the ghosts in the room behind the mirror.
    • When Coraline and Wybie are outside the Pink Palace talking about Mrs. Lovat's missing twin sister, the doll is spotted by the Cat on Coraline's window seeming to spy on them, and the Cat is suspicious, hinting that something is wrong with it. It's later revealed that the doll is used by the Other Mother to spy on Coraline as well as the other children.
    • Mrs. Jones mentions finding some "rat crap" near the door before locking it, but Coraline insists they are "jumping mice." As the Cat reveals, the jumping mice in the Other World actually are rats.
    • It's very subtle, but the Other Spink and Forcible's high-wire act is performed to the famous "Can-Can" song. For those in the know, that piece is from the operetta "Orpheus in the Underworld", based on a Greek myth about a young man who crosses into the underworld to plead with its ruler for the life of a loved one.
    • One of the ghost children says, as Coraline is collecting their eyes, "Hurry girl, her web is unwinding!"
    • The tea leaves. Ms. Spink warns Coraline to be careful because she sees a hand. Meanwhile, Ms. Forcible sees a giraffe and sees it as a good sign. However, it may also be foreshadowing, considering that she calls it a "tall, handsome beast". The Other Mother is handsome in the beginning, and becomes more and more tall and ugly by the end.
    • "This piano... plays me." The piano's hands then get used to censor the Other Father's warnings, and later still, to force him to fight Coraline against his will. Like his song, this is one way he tries to subtly warn Coraline about the real situation.
    • The very subtle split-second sign of the Other Father's stitches coming loose in the piano scene.
    • The Other Mother's outfits begin to have a certain resemblance to a black widow spider.
    • During Coraline's first visit to the Other World, after she asks "What rain?", lightning flashes in a shape that branches to form a nightmarish hand.
    • The other Spink and Forcible perform the "What A Piece of Work Is Man" monologue. Hamlet is a tragedy.
    • The Other Mother telling Coraline "it's all made up" (for her) on her first visit. The Other World certainly seems to be all made-up.
    • At the beginning of the movie, Wybie tells Coraline that his grandmother doesn't normally rent to families with kids. We find out later that it's due to the child disappearances caused by the Other Mother.
    • In the Other garden, a frog pops out of a pitcher plant; pitcher plants are carnivorous and lure their prey in with sweet nectar before trapping and digesting them.
    • At the end of the mouse circus act, the mice all crawl into the Other Bobinsky's outfit, with one going under his hat. When the Other World is falling apart, the Other Bobinsky is revealed to be The Worm That Walks, and is operated by a swarm of rats under his outfit; the bandleader under his hat has the ghost eye.
    • The vision Coraline sees of her parents shows them shivering and covered with snow, and when she's in the living room in the Other World, the sound of them finger-writing on frosty glass can be heard. They've been hidden in one of the snow globes on the mantel.
    • In another allusion to the Other Mother's hand, in the first scene in the Other garden, the Other Father says the Other Mother knows Coraline "like the back of her hand".
    • Coraline and the Other Mother never actually shake on their deal for the game, and it turns out that the Other Mother had no intentions to hold up her end of the bargain.
    • At the end of Coraline's second visit to the Other World, as she falls asleep, the Other Mother hushes the silent Other Father. While it seems like a cute "shh, she's trying to sleep" moment, it turns out that the Other Father has already subverted the Other Mother's influence by that point, having dropped hints to Coraline in his song. She's not being a sweet parent, she's trying to reassert her control over a problematic lackey...correctly, as the Other Father tries to defy her further, resulting his own destruction.
    • The words on Coraline's "Welcome Home" cake from the Other Mother contain what's been described by handwriting experts as a "liar's O", where the cursive O has an irregular loop inside it, something that often emerges in cases of written deceit. The liar's O itself is in the word "home" here, foreshadowing that while the Other Mother wants her to feel "welcome", the Other World is not what it seems to be — it's not her "home".
  • Foreign Sounding Gibberish: The general consensus as to exactly what the vocals in choral numbers like Exploration, Mechanical Lullaby, and of course the end credits song mean.
    • Closed captions just call it "child/children singing nonsense words".
  • Friendly Tickle Torture: About halfway into the movie, when Coraline enters the garden made by the Other Mother, she gets playfully "attacked" by a bunch of living Snapdragons that get beheaded shortly after by the Other Father.
  • Funny Foreigner: The rechristened-for-the-movie Mr. Bobinsky is the most eccentric character and is also Russian.

    G-L 
  • Gag Boobs: Ms. Forcible. Emphasis on "gag".
    (as Miss Forcible turns, revealing enormous breasts)
    Coraline: Oh my God.
  • Game Face: The Other Mother lets her disguise as Coraline's real mother slip when Coraline resists her, likely giving up the facade because she realizes it won't work anymore.
  • Garden of Evil: The previously magical garden in the the Other World quickly turns hostile when Coraline goes there to find the ghost children's eyes.
  • Ghost Amnesia: The ghost children don't remember their names.
  • Giant Spider: The Other Mother's "true" form ends up evoking this. In fact, the final form of the Other World is an enormous web.
  • Gilligan Cut: When Coraline makes a fuss over her food at dinner, calling it "slime", Mr. Jones says it's "slime or bedtime". She continues to complain, and slouches in her chair in a huff...which transitions into her falling back onto her bed.
  • Glamour Failure: The black button eyes, of course, but as Coraline continues to get to know the Other World, the harder it is for the Other Mother to hide her true nature.
  • Glasgow Smile: Played with. The Other Mother freezes Other Wybie's face into a perpetual smile when she takes away his voice, and later sews it into an even more hideous smile. The doll she uses as a spy on her intended victims is a straight example, as the mouth is slit open to remove the stuffing each time she remakes the doll.
  • Good All Along:
    • The Other Father. Even though he's a slave to the Other Mother's will, there are clearly moments early on when he's using whatever limited freedom he has to help and warn Coraline. His piano song is an attempt to drop hints that the Other Mother is constantly watching her. When Coraline rejects having buttons sewn into her eyes, the Other Father is smirking at the Other Mother's failure. Then he goes the extra mile trying to demonstrate how "not painful" the process is, only to receive a sharp kick from the Other Mother. This is justified because unlike the other adults, who were made to entertain Coraline, the Other Father is made help Coraline not feel neglected or ignored by her father, as she feels her real father is doing, and so, like any father should, he comes to love her unconditionally. A consequence of that love is a protective desire he feels and acts on in subtle ways.
    • Other Wybie is similarly good and protective of Coraline. While the Other Father is meant to be a loving father, Other Wybie's good nature can be explained in that the Other Mother created him for one purpose: to please Coraline. What does she want most? Friends who would be fun to hang with and not weird, unlike her first impression of Wybie. Therefore, the Other Mother created him to be Coraline's close friend unconditionally. Unfortunately for her, this backfires horribly. Unfortunately for him, the Other Mother doesn't take kindly to insubordination.
  • Groin Attack: Narrowly averted when Mr. Bobinsky jumps off his deck and almost lands on Coraline, with his crotch coming within inches of the pair of garden trimmers she has in her hand.
  • Harmful to Minors: Averted. Coraline gets over her initial shock at the Other Spink and Forcible's rather lewd play and begins to enjoy it.
  • Hartman Hips: Coraline's mother, the Other Mother, and the Other Spink.
  • Hates Being Touched: The Other Mother won't keep her hands off Coraline, and Coraline is evidently uncomfortable with it.
  • Heroic Sacrifice:
    • The Other Father tosses the first child's soul to Coraline and fights the machine he's tethered to long enough for him to fall to his death and keep Coraline alive.
    • The Other Wybie qualifies as well. He endures having a smile sewn into his face for defying the Other Mother's command to smile and still decides to help Coraline, rescuing her from the mirror and escorting her safely into the blocked passage back to the real world, knowing that the Other Mother will kill him for it.
  • Hoist by His Own Petard: The Other Mother creates alternate versions of Coraline's father and neighbor Wybie to be friendly and supportive and care about her. This leads to them defying her and sacrificing their existence for Coraline's sake.
  • Hope Spot: Coraline reluctantly goes back to the Other World to save her parents. She then sees her real mother peeking through the door, neck brace, buttonless eyes, and all. Coraline is so happy and relieved that she runs into her mother's arms. It turns out to be the Other Mother, who proceeds to confiscate the key to the Other Door while taking off her disguise happily.
  • Hypocrite: The Other Mother cheats like crazy. and wouldn't have let Coraline go whether she'd won the game or not, but is furious when Coraline throws the cat at her to turn the tables. "You horrible, cheating girl!!!"
  • Hypocritical Humour: "I'm way too old for dolls". Cue her immediately playing with the doll all day and naming it "Little Me".
  • I Do Not Drink Wine: The Other Mother is a fantastic chef, but while the Other Father and Coraline pile their plates with her food, we never see a speck on the Other Mother's plate, preferring to keep her attention onto Coraline. We find out her diet later...
  • I'm Dying, Please Take My MacGuffin: The Other Father as he passes Coraline the first ghost eye.
    "Taaaaaake iiiiit..."
  • Impossible Hourglass Figure: The Other Spink and Forcible. This is later done more horrifically with the Other Mother.
  • Improvised Weapon: Our heroine takes down the villain with a live cat. By throwing it as hard as she can at her. Yikes.
  • In Case You Forgot Who Wrote It: Inverted — it's been advertised as being "from Henry Selick, the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas", which most people associate with its producer, Tim Burton.
    • This was actually a later addition, as early ads only billed it as "from the director of The Nightmare Before Christmas" most likely in the hopes that people who only know Nightmare as being a Tim Burton film would assume he directed it.
  • Intergenerational Friendship: Coraline develops this with her adult neighbors at the Pink Palace Apartments.
  • Ironic Echo: Coraline calls the black cat a "wuss puss" when Wybie introduces her to it. In the Other World, the Cat demonstrates that he's the same one from the real world and how smart he actually is by throwing the wuss-puss insult back at her.
  • Irony:
    • Even though Coraline's parents write gardening catalogues for a living, her mother hates dirt.
    • The deterioration of the Other World reveals that some of its denizens' starting points were objects connected to their real world basis, like the Other Spink and Forcible becoming the taffy offered to Coraline, and the Other Bobinsky becoming a swarm of vicious rodents, as the real Mr. B is very close with his mice, and they, according to him, are concerned for Coraline's safety. Even the Other Father, who becomes a pumpkin, might be based on her real father's horrible cooking done out of love.
  • Jacob Marley Warning: The three ghost children give this to Coraline when she meets them behind the mirror, telling her how their souls were devoured by the Other Mother.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Almost everyone in the real world, although they warm up after Coraline returns from the Other World for the final time.
  • Jump Scare: There are a few.
    • Coraline suddenly gets grabbed by the Other Spink and Forcible monster when she tries to take the second pair of ghost eyes.
    • A more mild one when Coraline is approaching the real world Spink and Forcible's apartment and the dogs jump up suddenly, complete with their "infernal yapping."
  • Know Your Vines: Coraline brushes some leaves off a stick and uses it as a water rod. She meets Wybie, and has a fairly long conversation with him, and at the end he throws in that the stick she's holding is poison oak. We even see a rash on her hands afterwards, which then becomes a plot point when, during what appears to be just a dream, the Other Mother puts some healing mud on the rash, and Coraline wakes up with a completely healed hand.
  • Leitmotif:
    • "Mechanical Lullaby" for the Other World in general. The Other Mother even hums it.
    • Coraline has one in the form of "Exploration".
  • Lighter and Softer: They actually toned down the creepiness from the book, believe it or not, yet some very different forms of new creepiness were added, so this may or may not be the case for any given viewer depending on what they find scary.
  • Like Parent, Like Spouse: Notice how Coraline punches Wybie on the shoulder at the end. It's the same way Coraline's mom punches her dad's shoulder earlier. Let the shipping commence!
    • Plus, both couples have similar personality traits. Coraline/Mel is a grumpy snarker, and Wybie/Charlie is a lighthearted goofball.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Spink and Forcible. (Their relationship isn't explicit in the story, but Gaiman confirmed it on his Tumblr.)
  • Little Miss Snarker: Coraline is one, thoroughly unimpressed by either Wybie's antics or the Other Mother's strangeness.
  • Lock-and-Load Montage: There is a short one when Coraline prepares to enter the Other World to find her parents as she gathers her supplies and traveling clothes for the trip.

    M-R 
  • MacGuffin: The eyes of the ghost children. In order to escape the Other World, Coraline makes a deal with the Other Mother to collect all three.
  • Madness Mantra: Once Coraline barricades herself in her room, she hops under the covers and says to herself, "Go to sleep," over and over again.
  • Magic Mirror: The mirror over the prison room in the Other World is now a surface that can be passed through on the outside rather than a secret door on a hinge like in the book.
  • Master Actor: The Other Mother can convincingly pose as Coraline's real mother. She uses it to lure her in and confiscate the key.
  • Match Cut: The shot of Coraline leaning back in her chair to her falling into bed.
  • Messy Hair: Wybie, complete with twigs and leaves.
  • Midword Rhyme:
    Coraline: Oh, my twitchy witchy girl/I think you are so nice/I give you bowls of porridge/I give you bowls of ice...cream.
  • Mini-Me: The doll that Wybie gives Coraline early on looks a lot like her, which she nicknames "Little Me". It turns out that the Other Mother uses the doll's eyes to spy on Coraline, and she remakes the doll to look like each of her victims in turn.
  • Minion with an F in Evil: The Other Wybie, and later on the Other Father.
  • Mistaken for Insane:
    • Zigzagged with Mr. Bobinski. He behaves very erratically, and multiple characters speculate as to why, with their hypotheses ranging from him being insane to him being always drunk. We never find out the truth, though Coraline eventually comes to believe he's simply eccentric.
    • When Coraline tells Wybie about the Other Mother and the fact that the doll is being used to spy on her, Wybie doesn't believe her and thinks she's lost it.
  • Monochrome Apparition: The ghost children are a pale blueish color.
  • Mood Whiplash: The film is famous for transitioning from wondrous fantasy to horror at the halfway point when the true intentions of the Other Mother are revealed.
  • Morton's Fork: According to the ghost children, the Beldam would never let Coraline go, even if she wins the game.
  • Motif: Buttons, spiders, and the Other Mother's hand are prominent imagery. Much more subtly is the mirror, which appears in a scene that marks the significant tonal and plot reversal halfway through the movie, and brings to mind the idea of reflections being familiar yet inaccurate, like the Other World itself.
  • Muggle in Mage Custody: Coraline almost becomes a foster child of the Other Mother, who turns out to be an evil witch.
  • Mysterious Animal Senses: The Cat is able to communicate with the Other Wybie, even though the Other Wybie was created mute. The Cat even tells Coraline that cats have far superior senses to humans, at which Coraline immediately rolls her eyes. There's also his ability to go between worlds on his own, which is pretty impressive.
  • Mysterious Protector: The Cat followed and watched over Coraline for some time before making himself known to her.
  • Nasal Trauma: After losing her temper, the Other Mother grabs Coraline by the nose and drags her out of the room. For good measure, the Other Mother is in her true form and sporting extremely long, sharp fingers.
  • Never Trust a Trailer: Before the movie was released, many people thought that it looked too "cutesy", judging by the trailer. Oh, how wrong they were.
  • Nice Job Fixing It, Villain:
    • The Other Mother kills Other Wybie and punishes the Other Father into attacking Coraline, both of whiom are the only residents who were genuinely kind to Coraline. On seeing both of their fates, Coraline swears vengeance on the witch and doesn't hold back when tossing the cat in her face.
    • When Coraline begins her quest to find the ghost children's eyes, the Other Mother has insect minions try to steal the adder stone that Miss Spink and Miss Forcible gave her. Coraline fights them off and wonders why they were so determined to take it — and then she holds it up to her face and discovers that it can both see through the Other World's illusions and illuminate the glowing ghost eyes. Had the Other Mother not drawn attention to the stone in the first place, Coraline wouldn't have learned about its powers, and keep in mind that at that point, Coraline didn't even know what the eyes looked like.
  • Ninja Pirate Zombie Robot: The Other Mother's final form resembles a spidery skeleton woman with a face like a porcelain doll, hands made of sewing needles, and button eyes. Unfortunately, it's more scary then awesome.
  • No Name Given: We don't know the names of Coraline's friends from Michigan, the Cat, Wybie's grandmother, or the three ghost children.
  • Non-Human Sidekick:
    • The Other Wybie, being specifically created by the Other Mother for this purpose.
    • The cat fills this role as well, especially after Other Wybie meets his sad fate.
  • Non-Malicious Monster: Of all the creatures in the Other World, only the Other Mother is actively malicious. The Other Father and the Other Wybie end up entering Love Redeems mode because they were made to love Coraline and be her friend respectively, while the Other Forcible, Spink, and Bobinski are barely sentient due to the fact that their only purpose was to entertain Coraline.
  • No Sense of Personal Space: One of Coraline's Other World toys says "I wanna hug your face!".
  • Noodle Incident: Coraline's mother mentions a car accident as the reason the family moved. She's also wearing a neck brace throughout the film, also indicated to be a result of the accident.
  • Noodle People:
    • Coraline is as thin as a rod, but many other characters, like her father and Ms. Spink, are short and squat.
    • Mr. Bobinsky is a borderline example — he's round and rotund, but with spidery legs.
    • The Other Mother starts out looking like Coraline's mother, along with her legs. Gradually, she morphs and transforms throughout the story into a wizened, vaguely human creature with four spidery legs and arms made out of sewing needles.
  • Now You Tell Me: While exploring, Coraline flips a switch, only to find a sign telling the reader not to touch the switch. It turns off the electricity to the computer room, destroying her father's work.
  • Object Ceiling Cling: The candy bowl at Ms. Spink and Ms. Forcible's apartment. When Coraline tries to extract a piece of candy, it won't budge, so she tugs harder and harder until it flies out of her hands and sticks to a vent. It comes crashing down later towards the end of the scene.
  • Offscreen Moment of Awesome:
    • When it's revealed that Wybie's grandmother kept the doll for about fifty years after her sister died, which meant she kept it from spying on other potential child victims. She also refused to rent out apartments in the Pink Palace, where the entrance to the Other World is, to tenants with children. She manages to protect her grandson in this fashion as well, so that by the time Coraline's family moves in, the Other Mother is starving and Coraline is her last hope.
    • From a purely visual sense, the Other Mother's second transformation, which was probably too hard to transition even conceptually, let alone on screen with stop-motion.
  • Oh, Crap!:
    • "Black is traditional."
    • When the Other World starts to collapse, the Cat looks genuinely terrified for the first time.
  • Ominous Music Box Tune: When Coraline visits the Other Spink and Forcible's theatre the second time, one of these is playing.
  • Ominous Latin Chanting: More like ominous gibberish chanting. Most notable during the end credits.
  • One-Winged Angel: Over the course of the movie the Other Mother progressively gets more monstrous. She starts as a copy of Coraline's real mother, then gets thinner, spindlier, and overall wicked-looking. By the end of the movie, she reveals her true form — a spindly spider-human hybrid with cracked porcelain skin, metal legs, and hands with claws made of sewing needles.
    • Clipped-Wing Angel: Coraline's final confrontation in the film isn't with the Other Mother herself, but her severed hand, which fights her in the real world to get the key back.
  • Orphean Rescue: The final act of the film becomes this, with Coraline going into the Other World to rescue her parents and the three ghost children.
  • Our Sirens Are Different: The Bawdy Song Other Miss Spink and Other Miss Forcible sing while dressed as sirens and the Birth of Venus painting.
  • Paddleball Shot: Quite a few shots are made specifically to take advantage of 3D effects — for instance, the shot of the paper mice coming out of the brick wall, and the hands coming out of the piano.
  • Paper-Thin Disguise: Deconstructed. While the Other Mother looks like a doppelganger of Coraline's mother, it's shown that it's not her real form, and Coraline can tell the difference between the two. The uncanny resemblance creeps her out at first, including the button eyes. Eventually, she realizes that the Other Mother can't create anew, only copy what's real, and the disguise falls into that. One subversion is when she poses as Coraline's mother to lure her into a trap, hiding her button eyes and wearing a neck brace like her real mother has.
  • Parallel Porn Titles: The posters of Miss Spink and Miss Forcible when they were young burlesque/trapeze acts. Featuring titles borrowed from Shakespeare works. Such examples as "Julius Sees-Her!" and "King Leer!" with an old man ogling them in the background.
  • Parental Bonus: When we first meet Spink and Forcible, we find out by way of all of the posters that they are ex-burlesque dancers. Kids may not get it, but parents or grandparents might think, "How did that get there?"
  • Parents as People: Coraline's parents mean well, but they just don't have enough time for her at the moment.
  • Parents in Distress: Coraline's parents are kidnapped by the Other Mother, and she has to return to the Other World one last time and challenge the Other Mother in order to save them.
  • Pop-Star Composer: Almost. They Might Be Giants did write songs for the movie, but they ended up not fitting for the most part, and almost all got cut.
  • Post-Climax Confrontation: Much like in the original novel, after Coraline successfully escapes from the Other Mother and her custom dimension, her severed hand returns one final time in a last-ditch effort to reclaim the key that'll then allow the Other Mother herself to enter the normal world, only for the former to subsequently forever trap it right underneath of a large boulder within a deep hole.
  • Powered by a Forsaken Child: To sustain her life, the Beldam must consume all the love out of a child's soul after sewing buttons over their eyes. The various zones of the Other World and their assigned guardians also seem to be this, as, after Coraline takes back the stolen eyes, the areas and their guardians freeze and become completely grayed out. When all of the eyes are taken back, they collapse further, and the only zone and guardian left existing are the Other Mother and the Other Pink Palace.
  • Power Trio: Coraline, Wybie, and the Cat form one.
  • Platonic Boy/Girl Heroes: Coraline and Wybie.
  • Please, Don't Leave Me: As Coraline is desperately crawling through the portal to get back home after blinding the Other Mother, the Other Mother begins frantically pounding on the door and screams and pleads with Coraline not to go. It's a more selfish example than usual, given why she needs Coraline to stay.
    Other Mother: DON'T LEAVE ME! DON'T LEAVE ME! I'LL DIE WITHOUT YOU!
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: The Other Mother holds up a button and thread and snarls "Now you're going to stay here forever," to which Coraline shouts "No, I'm not!" and throws the Cat at the Other Mother.
  • Protagonist Title: The movie (like the book) is named after its protagonist.
  • Punch-Clock Villain: The Other Wybie and the Other Father. Neither want to be part of the Other Mother's schemes, but they have no choice.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "You. Aren't. My. Mother."
  • Punny Name: Wybie's real name, "Wyborne", gets twisted by Coraline into "Why-were-you-born?" when she's mad at him.
  • Rage Against the Reflection: Coraline breaks a mirror when she sees a vision of her captive parents inside.
  • Raincoat of Horror: One of Coraline's iconic outfits from this horror fairy tale film is a yellow raincoat. It's also the outfit the Other Mother makes to dress the doll version of Coraline.
  • Rapid-Fire "No!": Coraline's father yells "No!" several times when Coraline accidentally shuts off the power to the house while he's working on the computer.
  • Raven Hair, Ivory Skin: The Other Mother's true form, at least for Coraline, as it's unclear if she's still reflecting Mel at the end or if the entirety of her disguise has vanished.
  • Reading Tea Leaves: Miss Spink and Miss Forcible read Coraline's fortune when she comes to visit them. Miss Spink thinks that she is in terrible danger (seeing a "most peculiar hand"), while Miss Forcible thinks there is a "tall, handsome beast" in her future (seeing a giraffe).
  • Real Is Brown: The colors of the real world are incredibly dull and jaded to contrast the Other World's vibrant and cheery colors.
  • Red Oni, Blue Oni: Funnily enough, Coraline herself embodies both onis in different mediums: British book!Coraline is more stoic, mature, and cerebral, while American movie!Coraline is more belligerent, rebellious, and snarky.
  • Red Right Hand: The Other Mother is seen mechanically drumming her fingers a few times, belying her true form underneath. But really, are you gonna look at someone's hands if their eyes are buttons?
  • Refuge in Audacity: The theater scene, proof that Henry Selick knows children better than anyone else in Hollywood.
  • Regularly Scheduled Evil: The Other Mother goes dormant for long periods between enchanting and devouring her young victims, as evidenced by the time gaps between each of the ghost children's fashion, the cobwebs in her workshop, and the time since her last victim was taken, which was when Wybie's grandma Ms. Lovat was a young girl. Mr. Jones dates the Pink Palace at around 150 years old, and since we see three previous victims from that time span, it's implied that the Other Mother operates on a cycle of feeding every fifty years. It's further hinted that the evil is actually running behind schedule this time, given the young age of Ms. Lovat's sister in the last photo taken of her. For Ms. Lovat to be as old as she is in the present, more than fifty years would have passed since the photo was taken, suggesting that thanks to her efforts, Coraline is overdue, and that is why the Other Mother is so desperate.
  • Retraux: The entire movie, from the clothing to the hairstyles to the gigantic, baby-crushing CRT monitor on Coraline's dad's computer, is steeped in The '90s, which is strange, since the original book came out in 2002.
    • May cause a bit of Anachronism Stew; Coraline's mom has a flip-phone that looks more like it's from the early 2000s.
  • Rule of Symbolism: While Coraline is burning the doll, the fireplace holds a roaring fire. But as the scene turns quiet, the flames die down, signifying that all of Coraline's anger is spent.. Also, near the end, after Coraline and Wybie defeat the Other Mother's hand in the real world, the full moon is shown being uncovered by two clouds which resemble clawed hands, signifying the end of the Other Mother's threat.
  • Rule of Three:
    • Coraline goes to the other world several times, and it is on her third trip that the Other Mother's full intentions are revealed.
    • She also has to collect the three missing eyes of the ghost children and face three challenges to do so.
    • "One... two... THREEEEE!".
    • Spink and Forcible have three live dogs, and their stuffed dogs are in rows of three.
    • There are three wonders in the Other World, and three "acts" guarding them. The Other Father tends and defends the garden, the Other Bobinsky is in charge of the mouse circus, and the interchangeable team of the Other Spink and Forcible perform in the theater.
  • Running Gag: Early in the film, Coraline points out whenever something in the Other World doesn't match something in the real world, most notably that "my mom doesn't have buttons."
  • Russian Reversal: "This piano plays me."

    S-Y 
  • Same Content, Different Rating: Oddly enough, despite no edits in content being made, the film still received a TV-14 rating on ABC Family. While containing more scariness than the average PG kid horror flick, nothing is too scary that warrants a PG-13 in comparison to, say, 9 from the following year.
  • Scary Stitches: The Other Wybie's mouth is sewn into a forced smile. Also, the stitches of the Other World residents' button eyes.
  • Scenery Gorn: The scenes of the Other World disappearing, erasing all that beautiful miniature work into flat greys and eventually nothing at all.
  • Scenery Porn: Like you wouldn't believe. The garden, the mouse circus, and the theater in the Other World are breathtaking.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: The second Coraline learns the conditions for staying in the Other World, she tries to leave with no hesitation. Unfortunately, she isn't allowed.
  • Seashell Bra: The Other Forcible wears shells while dressed as Venus...but they're more like pasties.
  • Secret Room: Subverted. Coraline finds the outlines of a little door behind a box in the living room, but she cannot open it because it's covered up by wallpaper. Then her mum rips the wallpaper open, but the door turns out to be a Real Fake Door, as it's all bricked up behind it, making the door impossible to actually use.
  • Ship Tease: The interactions between Wybie and Coraline is seen by the fans as a burgeoning romance. He's always trying to hang around her, and Coraline refers to this behavior as "stalking." She also punches him playfully in the arm the way her mother punches her father earlier in the film.
  • Shoe Slap: Coraline gets mad at Wybie at one point and throws the heeled boots the Other Mother made for her at him while chasing after him in the rain. (In the commentary, the filmmakers note that this would have very different connotations in the Middle East, where throwing shoes is a far graver insult.)
  • Shout-Out:
    • To The Nightmare Before Christmas: the pumpkins in the other mother's garden look like the Mayor of Halloweentown, and the tallest of the three ghost children resembles Shock. The cat is the same sort of black, scrawny specimen seen in Halloween Town, and when the Other Mother cracks an egg, the falling yolk is shaped like Jack Skellington's face. Similarly, when Wybie has his facemask/helmet on, he bears a strong resemblance to Barrel.
    • To Pixar: one of the Shakespeare players has a baby in a backpack that looks a lot like Jack-Jack.
    • The movers at the beginning are the "Ranft Bros.", caricatured after Jerome Ranft and the late Joe Ranft, who worked on The Nightmare Before Christmas and several Pixar films.
    • The Other Father's slippers look an awful lot like Monkeybone...
      • Not surprising. He has his own line of slippers as part of his cartoon show's marketing gimmick.
    • The piano in the Other study has the gold word "Tadahiro" on it. Tadahiro Uesugi was a concept artist whom Henry Selick adored and who worked on the film.
    • Probably unintentional, but the father's name, Charlie Jones, is very close to "Chuck" Jones, and the "tall, handsome beast" that Miss Forcible sees in Coraline's tea leaves may be referring to the cat, voiced by Keith David, who also provided the voice of Goliath. Then again, both may simply be an Epileptic Trees moment. On the other hand, Keith David himself is a tall, handsome beast.
    • Wybie shares the same last name as a runaway Black child named Jessie Lovat in American Gods, though the surname is also mentioned in the book version of Coraline.
    • Likely unintentional, but when the Other World is getting destroyed, it's just white with some black outlined objects. It's very similar to Super Paper Mario.
    • Much of the Other Father's creepy dialogue when the Other Mother isn't around seems similar to Psycho.
    • To Shakespeare: quite a lot. One poster in the old ladies' apartment reads "King Leer". The boy in the uniforms store yells "My kingdom for a horse!". Several lines from Hamlet are quoted during the theater scene. To top it off, Oregon natives will recognize the city the titular character's family moves to as Ashland, Oregon, where the Shakespeare Festival is held annually. A banner for the festival is visible in one scene.
      • "What a piece of work is a man; how noble in reason; how infinite in faculty, in form and moving how express and admirable in action; how like an angel in apprehension; how like a god." Done awesomely, especially since they're saying it sarcastically, though Coraline and unfamiliar viewers wouldn't know it at the time.
    • An old witch entices children into her home with treats in order to eat them up herself, and eventually gets killed by one of her could-have-been victims, who's also female. Sounds familiar?
  • Shut Up, Hannibal!: When the Other Mother plans to trap Coraline in the other world with her forever:
    The Other Mother: You're wrong, Coraline. They aren't there. You're going to live with me forever.
    Coraline Jones: No...I'm...NOT! (grabs the cat and throws it at the Other Mother)
  • Sirens Are Mermaids: During the Other Spink and Forcible's song, the Other Spink describes herself as "the siren of all seven seas" while dressed as a mermaid.
  • Slaying Mantis: The Other Mother makes the Other Father's mantis vehicle into one in the third act, using the piano hands to control him. It's fitting symbolism, given that female mantises kill their mates.
  • Small, Dark, and Snarky: The cat.
  • Small Role, Big Impact: Wybie's grandmother has only a handful of scenes, and in all but one she's simply yelling from offscreen. However, for decades she's been holding onto the "Little Me" doll that was the reason her sister went missing. Said doll also was the only way the Other Mother could spy on children so as to feed on them, hence why Wybie's grandmother got frantic on learning that Wybie gave it to Coraline.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat: Some conversations between Coraline and the cat are this, given that the two are the biggest snarkers in the film.
  • The Sociopath: The Other Mother must eat life energy to survive, but goes about it in the cruelest way possible. She finds children unhappy with their lives, and creates a world that appears to be anything and everything they want. After a time, she convinces them to sew buttons on their eyes, trapping their ghosts behind a mirror. If they refuse, she drops the mask and imprisons them and their parents until they do. She has an impulsive love of games, but will cheat to win them, and immediately reneges on any deals made if she does lose.
  • Something Only They Would Say: Sort of. When Coraline and the cat first have a conversation, Coraline is initially skeptical that the cat is the same one from the real world (as opposed to a copy in the Other World). The cat quickly puts an end to the skepticism with a casual Call-Back to an earlier scene where Coraline refers to the cat as a "wuss puss."
  • Sore Loser: The Other Mother. She has zero plans to let Coraline go even if she does win their game fair and square.
  • Spanner in the Works: Wybie's grandmother, whose twin sister disappeared without a trace when they were both very young, kept the doll resembling her as a Tragic Keepsake, and also point blank refused to rent apartments in the Pink Palace to families with children. This deprived the Other Mother of her prey and of a way to find suitable victims; if Coraline's family hadn't rented their apartment, the Other Mother might well have starved to death.
  • The Speechless: The Other Wybie. Coraline wished the real Wybie would be this, and so in the Other World it was done.
  • Spiritual Antithesis: To Beetlejuice, as the movies share similar design aesthetics, characters, and situations, but the horror in Coraline is played straight while Beetlejuice is more comedic.
  • Spiritual Successor: To The Nightmare Before Christmas, as well as Henry Selick's previous James and the Giant Peach adaptation and MirrorMask.
  • Stepford Smiler: The Other Mother, and most of the denizens of her realm. When one of her creations won't smile, the Other Mother stitches their mouth open so they have no choice.
  • The Stinger: After the credits, some behind-the-scenes footage is shown of how the floating paper mice coming out of the tunnel was animated.
  • Stop Motion: The entire film is filmed in stop motion, using puppets and some CGI animation.
  • Swallow the Key: Done by the Other Mother to prevent Coraline from escaping her clutches again, as opposed to the book where she simply puts it in her apron pocket.
  • The End... Or Is It?: Done very subtly with the last shots of the movie. As the camera pans out on the garden, the way it's planted makes it look like the Other Mother's face, like the Other Garden resembled Coraline, and the Cat is seen vanishing into the Other World again.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Sandwich: Coraline never finishes a single meal throughout the entire movie. When the first meal gets replaced by cake, she doesn't eat that either. And she tosses away a bag of popcorn in the Other Mouse Circus.
  • This Was His True Form: When the cat delivers a killing bite to one of the Other Bobinsky's circus mice, it turns into a rat. As the Other World deteriorates, we get to see what each of its denizens come from.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Subverted. Coraline throws the stone at the rat trying to run away with the "eye". The rat easily dodges it.
  • Tickle Torture: Coraline suffers this at the hands of some plants in the Other Father's garden, although since the tone at the time is still lighthearted and fantasy-esque, it's more Friendly Tickle Torture.
  • Took a Level in Jerkass: Coraline, from book to movie, but she gets better.
  • Took a Level in Kindness: Movie!Coraline. Facing down an eye-mutilating witch tends to do that.
  • Tragic Keepsake: Wybie's grandmother kept the doll because it was an accurate facsimile of her twin sister, and the only clue as to what happened to her. Unfortunately, Coraline realizes the doll is a spy for the Other Mother and burns it when the Other Mother sends it back in the image of her parents.
  • Trailers Always Spoil:
    • One TV spot for the film shows the Other Mother giving Coraline the gift box with the buttons meant for her. Another TV spot has the Other Father being held up by the evil mantis thing and swiping at Coraline, and shows the Other Wybie's stitched smile. A third features Other Bobinski's rat-clothes slithering around.
    • Although spoilers were to be expected when the HBO Special on Coraline aired, some of them were a bit too big, mainly the fact that the Other Wybie dies and has all that's left of him, his clothes, hung like a flag. Granted, one of the five Behind the Scenes videos hinted at the possibility of this, but no one expected what actually occurred. It kinda reduced the shock value.
    • The Other Mother's second form is on the back of the DVD box. The spoiler status of this is arguable though, as that's how she's described in the book from the beginning, as opposed to starting out as identical to Coraline's real mother.
  • Viewers Are Geniuses:
    • Not many viewers will know why the ghost children call the other mother "the beldam", and will probably figure it was the name for whatever monster she was. Fortunately we have John Keats and The Other Wiki.
    • The fairy ring of mushrooms around the abandoned well is a huge Chekhov's Gun to anyone who knows the appropriate folklore; to everyone else it's just added scenery.
    • The stone that Spink and Forcible give Coraline? It's an adder stone.
    • Also, how many viewers recognize the speech the Other Spink and Forcible recite during their trapeze act? It's from Hamlet. It has especially interesting plot correlations when you recall that when he originally spoke it in the play, Hamlet was being sarcastic.
      • Especially when you also notice that they stop right before "And yet, to me, what is this quintessence of dust? Man delights not me."
      • It's just a passing gag, but how many people are going to get "My kingdom for a horse!"
      • A phrase which can be interpreted as, "Everything I have for the one thing I don't"... just a passing gag, eh?
  • Villainous Breakdown: The Other Mother's Glamour Failure happens gradually throughout the whole film, but she completely loses it when Coraline sees through her tricks and gets the cat to claw out the Other Mother's eyes, complete with a heaping helping of Hypocrisy.
  • Voice of the Legion: For most of his last scene, the Other Bobinsky speaks with his normal voice, but for a single, horror-filled line, he uses this trope to great effect.
  • The Watson: The movie-original character Wyborne "Wybie" Lovat, who gives a reason for Coraline to give the exposition told in the book through narration.
  • Weird Moon: As time passes during Coraline's hunting game against the Other Mother, the moon is steadily eclipsed, and the shadow has an inner circumferential line and four holes (i.e., the shadow of a button). Coraline seems to take it as a time limit; at one moment the shadow notably (and audibly at that) grinds to a halt when the final ghost child's eye/soul is won.
  • Wingding Eyes: The Other Mother and all of her living creations have the notable distinction of possessing black buttons for eyes, demonstrating their unnatural and uneasy presence. The Other Mother is even shown to be able to change their color if she wants to.
  • Wham Line:
    • "Or maybe...she'd just love something to eat."
    • The entirety of the ghost children's story shows the Beldam's true nature, but this line in particular:
    "She said that she loved us...but she locked us in here...and ate up our lives..."
    • "You're just a copy she made of the real Mr. B..." "Not even that...anymore..."
    • When Coraline is conditioned to stay in the other world:
    The Other Mother: You know, you could stay forever, if you want to. There's one tiny thing we have to do first...
    The Other Father: So sharp you won't feel a thing...
  • Wham Shot:
    • The first appearance of the Other Mother...turning around to reveal that she has buttons for eyes.
    • The scene where Coraline opens the box that will allow her to live with her Other Parents forever...and sees the buttons. It's then that it dawns on her what exactly the Other Mother wants her to do...
    • The Other Mother's transformation as she counts to three in response to Coraline's defiance.
    • Three of them during the trials Coraline has to go through to get the ghost eyes — the Other Father appearing forcibly strapped to his mantis tractor, the Other Spink and Forcible bursting out of the candy wrapper made of taffy and fused together, and a rat appearing inside the Other Mr. B's empty suit.
  • The Worm That Walks: The Other Bobinsky near the end of the movie, revealing him to be a set of clothes puppeted by his circus rats.
  • Vapor Wear: April Spink, if you look closely enough.
  • Yandere: The Other Mother. She insists that she loves Coraline even as she tries to hunt her down to sew buttons into her eyes and steal her soul.
  • You Have to Believe Me!: Coraline telling Wybie her tale of terror would probably have gone better if she'd explained it to him coherently; throwing shoes at him isn't going to make him believe her. In fairness to her, however, she just narrowly avoided having her eyes poked out by a demonic copy of her mother. Coherency is optional after that.

 
Feedback

Video Example(s):

Top

The Other Bobinsky

In the movie, at the end of his performance, all of the mice (rats in disguise) hop into his costume. The second time around, Bobinsky is revealed to be only made of rats. It's unclear whether he was all rats the whole time, or whether he was eaten by the rats and they assumed his body.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (23 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheWormThatWalks

Media sources:

Report