Coraline is a 2009 American stop-motion animated dark fantasy horror film directed and written for the screen by Henry Selick based on the 2002 novel of the same name by Neil Gaiman. Produced by Laika as its first feature film, Coraline stars the voices of Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Saunders, Dawn French, Keith David, John Hodgman, Robert Bailey Jr., and Ian McShane. The film depicts an adventurous girl named Coraline finding an idealized parallel world behind a secret door in her new home, unaware that the alternative world contains a dark and sinister secret.
Coraline Jones moves from Pontiac, Michigan, to Ashland, Oregon’s Pink Palace Apartments. As her parents struggle to complete their gardening catalog, Coraline is left to her own devices and meets their new neighbors, including Mr. Bobinsky, a circus mouse trainer, Misses Spink and Forcible, two once-famous actresses, Wyborne “Wybie” Lovat, the talkative grandson of Pink Palace’s landlady, and a mysterious black cat. Wybie gives Coraline a button-eyed rag doll he discovered that eerily resembles her. The doll lures Coraline to a small door in the apartment that is bricked up and can only be unlocked by a button-shaped key.
That night, a mouse guides Coraline through the door, now a portal to an “Other World” more colorful and cheerful than her real home. Coraline meets her Other Mother and Other Father, button-eyed doppelgängers of her parents that appear more attentive and caring. After dinner, Coraline goes to sleep in her Other Bedroom, only to awaken in her real bedroom in the morning. Coraline’s neighbors cryptically warn her about the dangers of the Other World, while Wybie tells how his grandmother’s twin sister disappeared as a child. Undeterred, Coraline visits the Other World twice more, meeting the button-eyed Other Mr. Bobinsky, the Other Misses Spink and Forcible, and the Other Wybie, who is mute. The black cat follows her and is able to speak in the Other World.
The Other Mother invites Coraline to stay in the Other World forever, provided she has buttons sewn over her eyes. Coraline attempts to flee, but the Other Mother has blocked the portal and transforms into a menacing version of herself and imprisons Coraline behind a mirror. There, Coraline meets the ghosts of the Other Mother’s child victims, including the sister of Wybie’s grandmother. The spirits reveal that the Other Mother, whom they call the “Beldam,” used rag dolls like Coraline’s to spy on them, exploiting their unhappiness and luring them into the Other World with the promise of better lives. The Beldam sewed buttons over their eyes and “consumed” them, leaving their souls trapped. To free their souls, Coraline promises to find the children’s real eyes.
Coraline is rescued by the Other Wybie and escapes back to the real world. She discovers her parents are missing, and realizes they have been kidnapped by the Beldam. Miss Spink and Miss Forcible give Coraline an adder stone and she returns to the Other World. The Beldam locks the portal and swallows its key, but Coraline, following the black cat’s advice, proposes a game: if Coraline cannot find her parents and the ghosts’ eyes, she will let buttons be sewn over her own eyes, but if she succeeds, the children’s souls will be freed. The Beldam reluctantly agrees.
Using the adder stone, Coraline finds the children’s eyes, and discovers that the Other Wybie was destroyed by the Beldam for helping Coraline escape. As Coraline finds the eyes, the Other World gradually disintegrates until only her family’s living room is left. Coraline sees the Beldam in her true skeletal, arachnid form, and tricks her into unlocking the portal. While the Beldam is distracted, Coraline finds her parents trapped in a snow globe, and throws the cat at the Beldam’s face, ripping her button eyes out. Blinded, the Beldam furiously feels for Coraline, but she and the cat manage to escape and lock the door shut on the Beldam’s hand, severing it.
Coraline’s parents reappear in the real world with no memory of what happened. That night, the ghosts warn Coraline that the Beldam will never stop looking for the key to the portal. As Coraline prepares to drop the key down an old well, the severed hand tries to drag her back to the Other World. Wybie smashes it with a rock, and they throw the remains of the hand, the key, and the rock into the well and seal it shut. The next day, Coraline and her parents, who have finally finished their catalog, host a garden party for their neighbors, and Coraline prepares to tell Mrs. Lovat about her twin sister.