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12 Movies Like Coraline To Watch This Spooky Season

Hitting theaters in early 2009 and adapted from a novella of the same name, it's hard to dispute the fact that "Coraline" has had a lasting impact on a generation of viewers. Whether you love the breathtaking visuals or the eerie storyline more, it's safe to say just about all of us are fans of the unique horror flick.

The film follows Coraline Jones (Dakota Fanning) as she attempts to navigate the new challenges of her life now that her family's relocated to rural Oregon for work. Speaking of her parents, it's not all that uncommon for them to sideline their daughter in favor of focusing on their careers, a decision that leaves Coraline to her own devices more often than not. It's on one of these days that the real trouble begins, with Coraline discovering a hidden passage in their new house that leads to an alternate world that mirrors our own. And while everything within seems idyllic at first glance, it might all just be to hide something far more sinister.

While "Coraline" has remained so popular over the years thanks to how unique it is, there are still plenty of films that capture its energy in some way. Whether they were further releases from LAIKA Studios that followed in its footsteps or released decades earlier, below we'll be rounding up some of the best films like "Coraline" to put on during the spooky season.


No list of movies like "Coraline” would be complete without touching upon a few of the other films that production company LAIKA Studios would produce. Still riding off of the success of "Coraline," the animation studio would continue down the route of dark and eerie stories with 2012's "ParaNorman," while still keeping the film distinct in its own right.

On the streets of Blithe Hollow, a small Massachusetts town, 11-year-old Norman Babcock (Kodi McPhee) is far more in tune with the supernatural side of life than the rest of the community, thanks to his ability to speak to the dead. While his talents are often met with disbelief and even bullying by his living peers, none of that matters when he starts to suffer from disturbing visions of the town's dark past. Not only do they suggest that a terrible tragedy may soon befall the entirety of Blithe Hollow, but Norman may be the only one with a shot at stopping it.

Released to positive reception from critics and audiences alike, "ParaNorman" is one of the rare children's films that, much like "Coraline," succeeds in finding audience appeal from all age ranges (via Rotten Tomatoes). It might not be as truly nightmarish as a few of the picks we'll be getting into, but it nonetheless captures all the fun and spooky vibes we love about Halloween.

Corpse Bride

Perhaps no name is more synonymous with spooky films than that of Tim Burton. Credited with directing some pretty spectacular live-action films that skirt the line between horror and comedy, he's also delivered a fair share of stop-motion picks for animation lovers. Though some of his best-known films over the years were produced back in the '90s, a few of his more recent picks deliver on the same charm and wit that he's known for, with 2005's "Corpse Bride" among them.

Set in Victorian England, groom-to-be Victor Van Dort (Johnny Depp) is in over his head with the impending ceremony. After botching his vows during a practice run of the wedding and gravely embarrassing himself, he runs deep into the woods to try and clear his mind. Finally gaining the composure to give it another go, he winds up reciting his vows in the wrong place and at the wrong time, proposing to the long-dead bride, Emily (Helena Carter). Now bound by his vows, he's forced to try and balance his two relationships, and even help uncover the true reason for Emily's untimely death.

Though the plot is considerably different than that of "Coraline," the eerie vibe and beautiful animation throughout "Corpse Bride" will strike the same chord for many viewers.

James and the Giant Peach

Life has been far from easy for James Trotter (Paul Terry). A tragic accident left him an orphan at a young age, and his extended family has been none too kinder to him than fate. After growing increasingly unhappy with living under their thumb, he finally starts looking for a way out. Luckily, James might just find what he's looking for, though not in a way anyone could expect.

When rising from bed one morning, James is astounded to find a single jumbo peach in his backyard that towers over him. Even more shocking, the gargantuan fruit is home to more than a few oddball insect characters. Promising to help him escape to faraway New York City, the group set off on a perilous journey that just gets stranger by the minute.

Adapted from a Roald Dahl novel of the same name, Tim Burton would play a key role in bringing the pages of the classic story to the silver screen, though not from the director's chair. That honor would go to "Coraline's" very own Henry Selick in just his second feature film (via IMDb). Like "Coraline," our protagonist's dive into a world of the bizarre is the drive of "James and the Giant Peach," as is a special focus on many of the same odd and eccentric moments you'd expect.

Monster House

At first glance, the quiet Wisconsin town that this one's set in seems completely normal. Once you dig a little deeper, though, it soon becomes clear that might not be the case. Amidst the rows of typical suburban homes that line the streets, the one owned by the elderly Horace Nebbercracker (Steve Buscemi) sticks out in more ways than one. He seems determined to perfectly embody the cranky old man stereotype and even has a few unsavory rumors swirling about the real cause of his late wife's passing. Worse still, even the house itself seems to radiate a certain, almost evil aura.

Despite the odd happenings, only three local kids seem to be aware that something just isn't right with the home. Their suspicions are unfortunately confirmed when, in a confrontation with the local police, the house goes on the offensive, trapping them all inside. It's only then that we start to put together the pieces of the house's truly tragic past.

Though it unfortunately doesn't incorporate stop-motion like many of the films we're getting into, "Monster House" makes up for its more generic CGI visuals with its compelling and creepy story. Like "Coraline," the kids find some pretty creepy stuff once they finally venture into the rabbit hole that is Nebbercracker's house, making this a solid but admittedly underrated spooky-season film.

The Boxtrolls

After the financial and critical success of both "Coraline" and "ParaNorman," LAIKA Studios would continue to stick to their emerging formula while also shaking things up a bit with "The Boxtrolls." While it's considerably less scary than their first two films, it makes up for it by leaning far more heavily into the humorous and bizarre types of stories they can tell, and was a welcome addition to LAIKA's concise film collection.

Underneath the streets and homes of the quaint town of Cheesebridge, Norvenia, a race of harmless creatures lives off of scraps and garbage from the people above. Known as the Boxtrolls, they're caught in the crossfire of the townspeople's anger after a rumor is spread that they're responsible for the disappearance of a baby. Unable to argue their case, the subterranean trolls have no choice but to rely on Eggs (Isaac Wright), a human raised by the trolls, to try and broker peace between the two sides before it's too late.

Though considerably different from "Coraline" in many ways, "The Boxtrolls" is an unmistakably LAIKA film, and one that further cemented the animation studio as a cut above when it comes to children's cinema.

Pan's Labyrinth

Taking another break from stop-motion and into live-action, acclaimed director Guillermo del Toro is no stranger to crafting some of the best and most imaginative films in modern cinema. With that in mind, it should carry quite a bit of weight when we refer to his 2006 dark fantasy masterpiece as his greatest film so far. Ditching the typical Disney depictions of fairy tales for something far more unnerving, it's an absolute tour de force in storytelling, and one well worth putting on any time of the year.

Set amidst the Second World War and some of humanity's darkest days, a Spanish family is being torn apart by the specter of the ugly conflict. While hoping for respite from the realities of her life, 10-year-old Ofelia (Ivana Baquero) is guided into a mystical labyrinth by the will of a mysterious creature. Once there, however, her life becomes even more complicated than before, as Ofelia is told she may well be the rightful ruler of the land.

Similarly to "Coraline," the twisted adventure follows a young girl who flees to its fantasy setting to escape life's hardships, though this time with the more unsettling and gruesome aspects dialed up to 11. Nonetheless, for the right adult audience, this one is sure to inspire the same sense of wonder and dread as classic fantasy stories did growing up.

The Wolf House

Years after the end of the Second World War, those few surviving perpetrators of evil still lurked in the shadows across the world. One such man, a former Nazi, has made a scrap of Chilean land his kingdom. Ruled with an iron fist, few, if any, manage to escape from the community. While all that serves as a solid foundation for a horror movie in its own right, it's what comes after one girl manages to beat the odds and escape that the film becomes truly terrifying.

Released to near-perfect critical reception, there's a solid case to be made for "The Wolf House" transcending from just a quality flick into true art (via Rotten Tomatoes). While the animation is rougher than most of the films we're covering, its lack of polish actually helps give it a truly chilling quality. If the visuals alone weren't enough to leave you feeling on edge, the underlying message and real-world inspirations certainly will. Add in the dark fantasy aspects that develop throughout, and you can think of it like "Coraline" but for the most devoted horror fanatics.

Mad God

Even if you're not familiar with the name Phil Tippett, you're surely familiar with the impressive projects he's been a part of. From "Star Wars" to "Jurassic Park," it seems that there's hardly a treasured film that the visual effects master hasn't helped bring to life. Despite playing an important role in the production of some of our absolute favorite films, Tippett never tried his hand at directing a feature-length film. At least, until more recently. Although that statement might be just a bit misleading, since Tippett's directorial debut has actually been an incredible 30 years in the making (via Bloody Disgusting).

It's honestly nothing short of a miracle that the film is seeing the light of day at all, thanks to its troubled production history. After being shelved to help work on "Jurassic Park," the love letter to stop-motion sat in development hell for about 20 years before Tippett felt inspired to continue the effort. Combine that with plenty of help and some relatively hefty Kickstarter funding, and "Mad God" finally got its long overdue release in the summer of 2022. The less steely-stomached viewers among us may wish it stayed under wraps, however, as Tippett's final vision is perhaps the most disturbing stop-motion nightmare ever put to film.

Told in a disconnected, almost anthology style, "Mad God" has a certain dreamlike quality to it as we're introduced to an Assassin's descent into the darkest depths of Tippett's visual hellscape. Like "Coraline," things only get more absurd the longer we spend on the other side of reality, painting a bleak and graphic vision of a reality we're glad is confined to the screen.

The House

Perhaps one of the lesser-known films on our lineup, "The House" goes beyond your typical stop-motion fare with the depths of absurdity it's willing to dive into. Told in three distinct segments, all revolving around the same house and its occupants throughout time, it's a film that's sure to keep you guessing all the way through.

The first, and easily most terrifying of the three stories chronicles the home's construction. After a life of poverty and disapproval from their wealthier relatives, a family is given the opportunity to lift themselves from squalor thanks to the generosity of a mysterious benefactor. It soon becomes apparent that his intentions may not be as kind-hearted as first thought, however, as the construction of the house runs parallel to the deteriorating sanity of those living inside.

We won't delve too deeply into the second and third segments, as "The House" is best experienced fresh, but each act of this three-part story is distinct in both its setting and messaging. Audiences with a passion for stop-motion will respect the superior visuals on full display throughout this one, and "Coraline" lovers will surely appreciate the haunting qualities of "The House."


Yet another pick from beloved director Tim Burton, "Frankenweenie" is one that's particularly significant to the storied filmmaker, sharing a title with one of his earliest short films (via IMDb). Filmed entirely in black and white, the stop-motion tale tells of a boy named Victor (Charlie Tahan) who loses his beloved pet dog Sparky too soon. With a love of science and a determination to be reunited with his pal again, he vows to try and bring the deceased pup back from the dead.

While everything seems to be A-Okay at first, if "Pet Sematary" taught us anything, it's that sometimes dead is better. That's certainly the case when Victor's reanimation machine eventually winds up in the wrong hands, unleashing a torrent of the undead upon the town and leaving Victor and Sparky to clean up the mess.

A lighthearted tale of a boy and his dog that's not without its creepy elements, "Frankenweenie" is a great pick for younger audiences delving into horror for the first time. Still, enough references to Burton's extensive filmography sprinkled throughout help "Frankenweenie" strike that perfect balance for Halloween lovers of all ages.

Return to Oz

Easily one of the most famous movies of all time, "The Wizard of Oz" portrayed a memorable, but ultimately not all that faithful depiction of author Frank Baum's original concept. Decades later, and unfortunately released to much less fanfare from critics, 1985's "Return to Oz" managed to capture a tone much closer to the grim and eerie world of Oz that Baum had imagined (via Rotten Tomatoes).

After a visit to a sanitarium that goes awry, the aptly named "Return to Oz" chronicles Dorothy's (Fairuza Balk) return to the whimsical land of the 1939 classic, only to find it in ruins. The streets are cracked, the Emerald City lies crumbling around her, and the familiar faces we know and love are not to be found. Instead, the people have turned to stone, and the streets are infested with nightmarish creatures known as wheelers, who harass and pursue anyone in their way. The film winds up getting even darker from there, as Dorothy discovers her old friends are now prisoners of a being known as the Nome King, who has claimed the city's emeralds for himself. Now, she's left with no choice but to try best the powerful villain and save the world of Oz.

Like "Coraline," "Return to Oz" fully explores a dark fantasy realm through the eyes of a female protagonist unhappy with their life. Plus, despite being the oldest pick on our list, the film still manages to provide some truly haunting imagery that still holds up today.

The Nightmare Before Christmas

While we've already touched on his later works, "Coraline" director Henry Sellick would create arguably his best and most memorable film on just his feature debut. He wasn't the only incredibly talented name attached to this one, however, as "The Nightmare Before Christmas" is a crowd favorite brought to us by co-producer and horror visionary Tim Burton as well. Perhaps the best pick for the Halloween season, the holiday mashup is one nightmare we're still not ready to wake up from.

Anyone who truly loves Halloween has likely wished the holiday could last for more than a day, which is exactly the type of place Jack Skellington (Chris Sarandon and Danny Elfman) calls home. He doesn't just live in the fittingly named Halloween Town, though; he also carries the title of Pumpkin King. Growing tired of the same old festivities, Jack's life of haunts and frights winds up getting shaken to its core when, on one fateful day, he discovers that there are doors to similarly holiday-themed worlds outside his own. Deciding to try his hand at Christmas, he soon finds out there's a long way to go before he can truly master the jolly holiday.

The similarities to "Coraline" are particularly unique in this one, as instead of Jack discovering a parallel world more unsettling than his own, he finds one full of holiday cheer. If you've somehow gone this far in life without giving this classic a try, don't bother waiting 'til Christmas time and put it on right now.