Jonathan Curole is from Louisiana. He is currently a graduate student in physics at Indiana University.


“ ‘Because,’ she said, ‘when you’re scared but you still do it anyway, that’s brave.”
Neil Gaiman, Coraline

Coraline was released in 2009 and is based on the 2002 novel by Neil Gaiman. This piece of stop-motion animation is an excellent adaptation of the novel, and is engaging in ways you may not expect from an animated film.

“Be careful what you wish for” is a life lesson that many of us have heard, and this tale certainly highlights that lesson. Young Coraline is bored and feels neglected. She yearns for new friends, new activities and, most of all, her parents’ attention. Said parents, on the other hand, are busy trying to work for their new home and accommodate Coraline. It is hard to place fault on them when they are trying their best in the midst of busy lives. All of us have, at some point, lost sight on what matters in the midst of work and responsibilities. It is a culmination of all these things that soon takes Coraline on the most horrifying ride of her life.

It is in the first night of sleeping at the “Pink Palace,” as the new house is known, that the plot starts to unfold. Coraline travels to an Other World and meets her Other Mother — the essence of evil in the best disguise. She is inviting in her overtly mothering demeanor. In fact, the only indication Coraline has that something is amiss at first is the buttons Other Mother has in place of eyes. However, the audience can tell right from the start that Other Mother has her own sinister intentions in mind for Coraline.

The way that this other world is given life — with its mimicked, darker, tenants of the real world — is splendid. The way every Other Tenant gives Coraline all the attention she wished for in her world draws us back to the Other Mother’s ill intent. The audience can absolutely feel this world begin to pull her into a false sense of security, a foreboding lost to Coraline’s immediate excitement in a world of which she so badly wants to be a part. (The soundtrack is also a wonderful addition in this regard, adding to the playful, light tone while communicating a sense of danger.) The Other Mother’s transformation into the “Beldam” haunts me every time I see it.

It is here that Coraline finds its real strength. Too often, some may think of bravery as a hero in a novel who never thinks twice about stepping forward despite what stands in his or her way. This isn’t bravery. Bravery is being deeply afraid of something but choosing to move through it anyway. It is this bravery in spite of the immense fear Coraline feels that really makes her shine through the rest of the film. This is why I find myself watching this movie every year, as it hits the reality of heroism. A hero is not necessary defined by being super strong or fast, being a tech genius, or being a Greek god as (sometimes quite good) superhero movies would tell us. Sometimes being a hero is being an 11-year-old girl who is quite afraid, but standing strong in the grip of that fear.

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”
Neil Gaiman, Coraline


For most of his life, Evan Dossey has generally avoided horror films. The genre makes him profoundly uncomfortable. This means he has enormous gaps in his cinematic knowledge. Each year, he asks friends and family which essential horror movies he needs to see in order to fill those gaps and spends the better part of October agonizing over them, tossing and turning over them … and writing about them. This year, he’s sharing the month with those friends and family — letting them offer their own thoughts about the tales that terrify (or perhaps just titillate) them. This is our No Sleep October.



Pop Skull – Richard Propes

The Ghost and the Darkness – John Tuttle

Graveyard Shift – Eric Harris

Captain Kronos – Bob Bloom

Alien – Nicole Brooks

The Night Stalker / The Night Strangler – Lou Harry

Pet Semetary (1989) – Heather Knight

Marianne – Alys Caviness-Gober

Orphan – Greg Lindberg

Gummo – Evan

Vamp – James Ledesma

NEKRomantic – Andrew Kimmel

The House on Sorority Row – Tim Brouk

Blade – Dave Gutierrez