Coraline from a psychological perspective

By Juliana Malfitano

With Halloween fast approaching people can agree that although the animated film
Coraline was not intended to be strictly a “Halloween movie”, per se, it certainly is ominous enough to fall in that category. For brief context, Coraline is a movie where a girl, Coraline, moves into a new house with a secret door, and at night that door opens to a dream world, that is her life, her parents, her house, but way better. That is until her “other mother” tries to sew buttons in her eyes in order to trap her in this parallel universe. The plot is fast moving and just spooky enough. However, this kids’ movie can be seen as much more than the typical hero’s journey. Coraline may contain a cautionary tale to neglectful parents. To elaborate, Coraline’s parents often ignore her at all costs; therefore, at this new house she explores, meeting all the neighbors and trying to make friends. She leaves her home as a form of escapism from her parents. This leads movie watchers to believe that maybe this “parallel universe” she visits at night is not as fantastical as it seems. 

This other realm could truly be something put together in Coraline’s head, in order to imagine a perfect world where her parents love her the way she hopes for, or it could be just a work of fiction. This makes sense, because of the absurdity of the universe, with many child-like themes. These visions also only occur when she is completely alone, giving her time to be with her own thoughts. Often when children feel unloved, they create an idealized depiction of what their life could be. In Coraline’s case this dimension was too good to be true; this is characteristic of a child in this situation, because although they can fantasize, the life they wish for is likely not within reach. Of course, this may not be the case, but looking at this children’s film from this point of view can give a deeper appreciation of the director’s purpose. Additionally, because of the intended audience, the kids watching may see themselves in Coraline.