Coraline is an animated movie that is quite unique because of a twisted feel to the entire movie. The word ‘creepy’ doesn’t quite capture the feeling it gives you.
But it is a feature that has some ardent fans, and I thought I’d try to put together a list of movies that give off the same tentacular vibe, despite being an animated film, and therefore assumed to be kid-friendly.
A quick round-up of movies similar to Coraline
- Frankenweenie – Stream on Prime
- Spirited Away – Stream on Prime
- Monster House – Stream on Prime
- The Secret of Kells – Stream on Prime
- Anomalisa – Buy or Stream
- Wallace & Gromit – The Curse of the Were-Rabbit – Buy or Stream
What is Coraline about?
The movie Coraline is about a girl that moves to a new home and is left to explore her new surroundings.
And wouldn’t you know it, she discovers a portal to a different reality where people have buttons instead of eyes.
The creep factor is immediately upped with this simple choice. On the surface, this new reality appears a lot more to Coraline’s liking. The button dad and button mom are far more affectionate to the girl.
She makes it a routine to travel to the button-world at night, to live the good life. But an innocent choice to one day go there during the daytime is what sets the more creepy aspects into motion.
She notices that button-mom may not be all hugs and kisses, especially the way she seems to react to Coraline’s black cat companion.
The third act of the movie gets terrifying, and captivating at the same time, as the truth of the button-world is made apparent to Coraline.
The source material for this is Neil Gaiman’s novella of the same name. Neil Gaiman, of American Gods and The Sandman fame.
If you’re interested in the book that inspired the movie, check out Neil Gaiman’s book with illustrations.
What moves like Coraline can you watch?
Coraline has an unmistakable Tim Burtonian quality to it, which you either love or hate. So I scoured my mind-palace (and the web) to think of movies that gave off the same vibe.
We might as well get through the Tim Burton movies covered right away. The master of the creepy vibe made his own adaptation of the Frankenstein story.
In his version, a kid’s life is thrown into turmoil when his beloved pet dog dies and his reaction is to Frankenstein the poor thing.
You could look at this movie as some way of educating kids about death and acceptance of death. But the animation style and the relish with which Burton tackles this rather fun situation tells us that he’s more in love with the morbid aspects of life.
There is a sense of lightness to the movie, but the way the signs of death begin to gradually worsen on the recently reanimated dog does give you the heebie-jeebies.
I should probably add Corpse bride and The nightmare before Christmas, but they tend to do the opposite of what Coraline does.
The characters all appear to be deathly, and grotesque, but then turn out to be rather sweet and lovable.
Hayao Miyazaki’s 2002 Oscar-winner has an animation that is the farthest from the stop-motion style adopted by Coraline.
It also has bright inviting colors that make the whole affair a lot more cheerful-looking than other movies on this list.
But this movie is about a girl Chihiro, who is suddenly stuck working in a strange bathhouse, under the tutelage of a terrifying witch, after an innocuous road-trip goes wrong (parents turning into pigs wrong).
There she meets strange, mystical characters, who for the most part are fantastical beings going about their fantastical days.
But as any good movie must, things take a turn for the worse before they become good.
Despite the very distinct Miyazaki style of animation, the movie gives off the weird vibe that we like.
Just from the sudden shift from a domestic world to a fantastical one is enough to activate your senses, and the wonder never stops.
The art of Spirited Away is quite amazing, despite it being 20 years old. Check out this book focusing on the art-style of Spirited Away, if that kind of thing works for you.
Despite having the clunky animation style of a mid-2000s animated movie (that does not age well), and the very cliched setup of kids having to tackle something supernatural without the help of adults, Monster House has the vibe we’re looking for.
If anything, the crap animation probably ramps up the tension in a movie where three kids have to save their friend from, well, a monster house. A house that does monstrous things.
This all seems banal until we come to know why the house must behave so aggressively.
The Secret of Kells is an animated feature from Tomm Moore, also responsible for the mesmerizing Song of the Sea.
The art-style of his movies are very distinct, as they are closer to the low budget cartoon series at first glance.
But as you watch these movies, you start noticing these small but significant artistic touches, that take them far beyond the most-polished Dreamworks movies in beauty.
There is no attempt to match the visual bombast of large Hollywood productions. Instead, they go for something resembling the hand-drawn style of animation.
The colors pop off the screen and the art is something to behold.
The story is that of a young Irish boy who lives in the time of Viking invasions. Turns out the Vikings aren’t the cool braggarts we thought them to be, but are responsible for the whole invasion-craze of the Europeans.
There is the story of the boy who is restricted to the safety of the Abbey but wants to wander outside its walls in the surrounding forests.
There’s also something about the friction between Christianity and Pagan myths. The story is solid, and the drama very real.
But the star is undoubtedly the magical art. Much like the Red Dead Redemption games, every still is painting with this one.
If you fell in love with the art of Secret of Kells, like everyone else who lucked into watching it, there might be a book that interests you. It has illustrations of the art from the movie.
This is a bit of a departure from the type of movie I wanted to add to this list, but I couldn’t talk about weirdly attractive art styles, and not bring up Anomalisa.
This is an animated movie with all-too-real human emotions, with an unnervingly good animation style.
This movie was looking more for critical appreciation, than big bucks at the theatres, as it tackles the life of a small-time author on a promotion tour.
Our protagonist Michael Stone, voiced by David Thewlis of Harry Potter and Fargo fame, feels distant from everyone around him, and so the tone of the movie is never uplifting at ANY point in the movie.
This movie is all cold, with a precious few warm spots. But the animation is arresting, and the plight of the characters hit home a bit too hard.
This is absolutely not for kids.
There’s not much of a creep factor with the animation, but the stop-motion style animation and the cool British humor of the movie more than make up for it.
The movie is a parody of the monster-genre and is a part of the Wallace & Gromit series of movies and shows.
So if you do fall in love with this flick, there’s no need to look for a similar post, just watch the other Wallace & Gromit movies.
The plot surrounds the annual giant vegetable competition and Wallace & Gromit’s pest control business.
The townspeople want to win the competition, while our heroes protect their produce from pests.
But a simple setup involving traps does not satisfy Wallace’s imagination, so instead, he develops a machine that would brainwash captured pests into anti-vegetarian.
Somehow things have to go wrong enough, that we end up with the titular Were-Rabbit. It’s a pleasant, engrossing watch for both silliness and wry Brit humor.
Watching Coraline reminded me there are many animated movies on the periphery that need more attention.
Much as I love the How to Train your Dragon movies and the Shreks, sometimes animation needs to do a bit more than dazzle.
That’s exactly what movies on the list did for me, and I hope they have a similar effect on you.