(warning: scary story)

Imagine you're in a dark forest with your old elementary school 3rd grade class. Night time. You're fast marching through the woods single file-- and you are last in the line. On your back is an oversized knapsack. Chock full of stuff. But for whatever reason it's totally light. Almost like it's filled with chunky air. The forest ground is soggy wet leaves and when you look down you see emeralds stuck in the mud here and there. Glimmering out. But you don't pick any of them up. You're too busy keeping an eye on the glowing orange mini-monkeys that are swinging on vines over head. Their light stands out against the night sky. Like flying tips of cigarettes.

The monkeys are moving fast and the whole class is struggling to keep up. Hustling to follow them along. You don't trust the monkeys because they're leading the class toward the dark center of the woods. And in that darkness are noises. Noises that sound like snapping trees, yelps and low groans. It all sounds strangely metallic. Like the sound is being processed through a filter. You can't hear the noise clear enough to know exactly what it is-- but the groans always follows the loud snaps. The class is doing double time to keep up with the monkeys. Heading faster towards it. You hurry too. You'd rather be with them than alone.

Your backpack snags on something. It feels as though someone yanked you backwards and you land on your butt. You can't see what the snag is because you can't turn around. Something has really got a hold of your backpack. And you can't reach behind you. The pack is too big. You yell for the class to stop but they don't. The orange monkey lights get dimmer and smaller. The crunchy marching disappears into the darkness. You're alone. You get mad at whatever snagged your pack. As you struggle to get your arms free of the straps-- you feel the whole pack yanked backwards. Whatever snagged you isn't a twig. It's a thing.

In an absolute panic you wriggle free of your pack and scurry away from it. All you have is moonlight to figure out what's there. And you see nothing. Just the pack lying on its side. Nothing around it. No snag. Slowly you creep to your pack and turn it around. You decide to unzip it a little and see what's inside. Half-way unzipped you see there's cheerful color inside. Light. You unzip it all the way and a ladder pokes out of the top almost hitting you in the face. You spread the zipper opening wide and peer down into the knapsack. It's a colorful world. It's like you're looking down from a cloud above it all. The ladder leads down to a meadow of lush hills and giant smiling sunflowers. Down there you hear girls giggling and dogs barking. You step into your pack and slowly descend on the ladder.

Step by step you head downwards toward the new earth. The ladder leans against nothing. It's just sticking straight out of the ground. But it's solid. The energy is good. You hear a noise above and see the knapsack zipper slowly closing across the sky-- sealing you in your new world. Zipping the forest dark shut. You look down and see you're much higher than you thought. You start to feel uneasy about the height. You don't want to look down until you touch the ground. You say out loud, 'Don't look down...' Step by step you head downwards. You say again, 'Don't look down...' And then you feel the ladder shake from below. As if something is climbing up it.

You look down and climbing up the ladder toward you is a grey dead child in rotting overalls. He smiles a big toothless grin. The meadow and flowers drain of color and die. Hand over hand it's coming up. Fast. You look up and see the zipper in the sky re-opening. At first you're relieved-- but then huddled around the edge of the zipper hole-- you see your classmates. They're all grey and dead and grinning too. Their teeth fall out. Raining teeth down on you.

The child from below calls you by name. He tells you he has secrets. The voice is artificially deep and gurglily. As if a drowned child is trying to speak like an adult. The kids above titter excitedly. Your front tooth all of a sudden feels loose. Not knowing whether to climb up or down you're frozen mid-ladder and close your eyes tight. You feel the ladder shudder as the child below you picks up speed. Hand over hand. Toward you. You want it to be a dream. It has to be a bad dream. You try to override everything with a brain screaming wakeup call--- but the child from below grabs your ankle tight. And your eyes pop open. You're still there. His hand is clammy and soft. You look down at the soulless child. He says, "No sleep till you hear my secrets." Then he quickly scurries up your back, wraps his cold arms around your neck-- and begins harshly whispering in your ear. The damp thick breath worms its way down your ear canal...


Three Good Things About this Movie

- Certain scenes were so awesomely freshly visual my mouth hung open.
- I was legitimately scared a few times.
- I've never seen anything like it.

Three Bad Things About this Movie

- I feel like if you took any random nightmare and slapped amazing visuals on it-- it would be on a par with this.
- For all the fun and newness-- the story consistently ball dropped.
- The 3-D was almost an unnecessary distraction. And there wasn't nearly enough in your face popout moments.

Umm... so what's with the story above? I dunno really. But take any crazy dream story and animate the sh*t out of it-- and it's gonna be pretty friggin cool. Coraline is like being stuck someone else's dream (or nightmare.) It's kinda entertaining but it didn't really connect or make me care. And it seemed unfortunately issue driven with fragmented psychological mommy/daddy stuff. Mixed disturbingish messages. Yadda. Sure, I gotta admit it was fun and different playing in someone's elses headvision while watching this flick-- but take these coolio visuals and plug em into a really tight spooky story with real depth and soul?

That's the sort of thing I'm really dreaming about...