Happy Spooktober everyone! It’s officially October and you know what that means – it’s almost time for Halloween, and Halloween means spooky movies. Throughout the month of October, I’ll be reviewing several Halloween-themed films that are perfectly fit for the holiday. If you’ve read some of my other posts, you might’ve caught on that I’m quite the scaredy cat (that’s an understatement), so no, I won’t be reviewing any hardcore horror films. Still, I hope you enjoy these Halloween themed reviews!

In starting my series of Halloween themed movies for the month of October, I thought to myself, what better movie to kick things off than Coraline. As a personal favourite of mine, this movie has all the creepiness and thrill you want out of a solid horror movie, just without the gruesome and terrifying mess that comes with many. Based on the novella of the same name written by Neil Gaiman, Coraline is a 2009 stop motion animated horror film directed by Henry Selick and stars the voice talents of Dakota Fanning, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, and Keith David.

If you’ve never seen Coraline before, here’s a quick summary: the film follows a young girl who discovers a secret door in her new home, unlocking a perfect universe that sneakily hides a dark evil. I’ve always found the premise of the film to feel terrifyingly creative yet eerily relatable – who hasn’t had childhood desires and fantasies that they wish could become true? I love that the film plays into the innocence of children and uses that against them. The beauty of this movie (and what I find so terrifying) is that as an adult, it’s very evident how Other Mother is trying to lure in children. But as a child, their innocent obliviousness prevents them from seeing the danger. For me, that really builds the horror in this film, the fact that I have the ability to know what’s going on but knowing Coraline doesn’t.

So for adults who have the strange belief that animated movies are only meant for children, you need to see this movie. If I watched Coraline as a child, I would’ve surely had nightmares for months. Selick does a fantastic job in creating an unsettling atmosphere that perfectly sets the creepy tone and lingers for the entirety of the movie. While I’ve read some people found the pacing of the movie to feel rather slow, I personally love how the movie takes its time to unravel the dark secret its hiding. Instead of rushing through scare after scare, Coraline is much more thoughtful in its execution that slowly builds into a terrifying climax. Combining the creepy visuals of the setting and characters with the scary events that take place, I am repeatedly awed by how thrilling and disturbing this movie is. The entire storyline is built upon something that feels quite dark and sinister, always leaving me feeling tense even after the movie reaches its conclusion.

Of course, the highlight has always been the stop motion animation which turned this movie into a fantastic spectacle. I always admire the work of stop motion animators and the dedication they have for the art. It undoubtedly takes so so much extra care and effort, and the results are always stunning. For Coraline, I feel the animation really added to the creepy style and look of the film, but it also added a sense of wonder that perfectly fit the theme. The characters aren’t necessarily pretty to look at, but their wonky design adds an extra flair that feels unique to the film.

The music also works to the film’s advantage, sounding more unsettling than pleasant. That opening song where it sounds like children singing a bunch of nonsense is definitely more scary than sweet. I just really appreciate the overall experience of this film, from the visuals, to the music, to the voice acting, to the story. It all adds up together to create a brilliant masterpiece that I’ve genuinely enjoyed every Halloween since I first saw it.

So if you’re looking for something spooky that is still stomachable without the jump scares (I personally think there’s one in this movie) or bloody aftermath, Coraline is a great option. Not only does this movie feel different and creative in its storytelling, it’ll still give you the tense and scary feeling that you’re looking for in a Halloween horror film. As a Halloween classic for me, I’m giving Coraline a deserved 8.5/10. Scary with the right mix of childhood wonder and entertainment, this is a good one to watch as a family with your kids (as long as they can handle it). And hey, even if it’s not Halloween, I’d still recommend you check this one out because it’s just that good.