Did Coraline really escape? Fan theory, movie and book ending

Even after all of these years, it’s still generating discussion.

Directed by Henry Selick, the 2009 American stop-motion animation Coraline is an intriguing film that has the ability to delight some and terrify others.

It’s an imaginative fantasy horror like few others, boasting such vocal talents as Dakota Fanning, Teri Hatcher, Jennifer Saunders, and Dawn French wholeheartedly breathing new life into the 2002 novel of the same name.

Speaking of Neil Gaiman’s source material, did Coraline escape in the book and what about the movie?


Did Coraline escape?

The ending of both the novel and the movie shows Coraline escaping from the other world and returning to her own.

Considering the film, Coraline tricks the Beldam into opening the door to the real world and distracts her while she rescues her parents in the snow globe. As she’s escaping she cuts off the Beldam’s hand with the door.

The ghosts thank Coraline for their freedom in one of her dreams, although they assure her that the Beldam is seeking the key. Indeed, when she goes to drop it down a well the hand attempts to stop her but they manage to throw the key and hand down before sealing it shut. Coraline then attends a party her parents are hosting.

Similarly, the book ends with Coraline succeeding to escape the other world and trap the hand in the well.

Here’s where the fan theory comes in

As we’ve addressed, the movie and novel do not explicitly attempt to announce that Coraline didn’t actually escape the other world.

However, some audiences and readers would argue that certain details suggest that the titular character’s true fate is left ambiguous.

For example, GameRant addresses an important detail in the novel; the ghost children tell Coraline that not one of them has ever seen their parents after catching a glimpse of the Beldam. The same source suggests that the ‘real world’ is actually an illusion made by the Beldam to keep Coraline confined.

This theory suggests that Coraline actually threw away the key in the other world, ensuring that she’ll never be able to escape it.

A number of other details arguably reinforce this theory, such as her parents suddenly changing, while some on Reddit have noted that the well resembles the tunnel to the other world and the garden in the real world eerily looks like the Beldam.

Ultimately, it depends on what you wish to believe.

What about a sequel?

A fan tweeted Neil Gaiman in 2021 saying: “please make Coraline 2… what you waiting for…”

Neil responded: “I’m waiting for a Coraline story that’s as good as or better than Coraline. There’s no point in making something less than the first book or movie.”

Nothing has been confirmed since then.

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