Coraline: Book & Movie Comparison

It’s day twelve of 13 Writes of Fright. Only one more day until Halloween is upon us, are you ready to get spooky?

If you’re a fan of movies like The Nightmare Before Christmas, chances are you’ve seen Laika’s amazing movie Coraline. However, this incredibly creepy story of a girl and her Other Mother source from Neil Gaiman’s twisted mind in his original children’s book of the same name.

I read the book long after seeing the movie, so expectations were set to maximum creepy, and Gaiman did not disappoint. One of my favorite qualities of movies adapted from Gaiman’s books is how well they can stand alone, or compliment one another. Stardust is another great example of that.

Book Coraline is too perfect. She moves into a new house with her parents and she’s generally sweet to all of her strange neighbors. Movie Coraline is sort of a brat, but it makes her development much more rewarding at the end of the film.

Coraline is a children’s book, so it gets right to the plot. Coraline does not consider Other Mother’s world pleasant at all. Basically, she has enough sense to know something is up. Movie Coraline is really into this magical other world before buttons come into play. I think this is a direct result of Book Coraline’s parents being generally busy, and Movie Coraline’s parents being a little more negligent.

Despite the fact that the book jumps right into the plot, it does not lack suspense and terror. In the book Coraline must face off with her Other Father in the basement. In the end she has to blind him and escape silently. The book leaves a lot of gaps for your own mind to populate, which makes the entire story much creepier. Don’t get me wrong, Laika’s stop motion is terrifying, but Gaiman is an expert in creepy language.

Something the movie excels at is tying everything together. Wybie is an excellent character who does not exist in the book. I think he drives Coraline’s bratty attitude, but he really is a great addition to the plot. The three ghost children are related to the larger story, too. One of them is Wybie’s grandmother’s twin, which is so twisted, but a nice tie into what this small town was like decades ago.

One thing I definitely liked more about the book was the ending. Coraline knows that the Beldam’s hand has entered into her world and she sets a clever trap. She pretends to go on a picnic with her toys, balanced right over the old well and sends the hand, along with the key, flying down, and traps it forever. The major difference is that Coraline has a few seemingly normal days before she settles things with the hand. She makes a plan and executes it alone.
In the movie, she traps the hand before the start of a new day, suggesting that darkness was still present in her world. Also, Wybie helps her out, so she doesn’t have to take it on alone.
Both the book and the movie are excellent renditions of Coraline. I definitely recommend reading the book if you are a fan of the movie. Neil Gaiman is one of the only authors whose books really live independently on screen and in paper. If your looking for something with spooky set to 11, Coraline is the story for you!
[Photo Credit: Focus Features]
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