Coraline is a 2009 stop-motion, animated film based off the Neil Gaiman book of the same name. It was a pretty polarizing film that many people loved and many people hated. Parents of young children thought it was much too scary and dark to be a children’s movie, but people who love the movie argue it wasn’t necessarily meant to be a kid’s movie.
Wherever a person stands on the argument, there’s no denying that the movie has a huge cult following and is really quite popular, especially among older teens and adults.
If you’re here, it’s probably because you’re on the Pro-Coraline side of the argument. Otherwise, you wouldn’t be here looking for the best movies like Coraline to watch.
Luckily, you’ve come to the right place. Whether you enjoyed the movie because of its creepy yet fascinating animation style, its dark but intricate plot, because it was originally written by Neil Gaiman or just because, we’ve got a great list of similar movies for you to check out and (hopefully!) enjoy just as much.
I have arranged these from “Most Like Coraline” to “Least Like Coraline” and not by age rating as usual, they run from G all the way up to R so be sure to check the rating (under the poster) before you show it to your kids.
Creepy Movies Like Coraline – From Most to Least Like
The Nightmare Before Christmas (1993)
If you’re looking for creepy animated movies like Coraline, Tim Burton’s The Nightmare Before Christmas has to come at the top of the list.
Coraline is so dark and unsettling and the stop-motion animation style so familiar that many people mistakenly credit Tim Burton for the film, even though he wasn’t involved. This has a lot to do with the fact that this movie, too, was directed by Coraline‘s director, Henry Selick. It should come as no surprise, then, that Nightmare holds our top spot.
The movie is about the leader of a town (Halloweentown) full of ghosts, ghouls, goblins and all those other things that go bump in the night getting bored with preparing for Halloween and trying to steal Christmas instead.
It features some of the best stop-motion animation of any movie period. It kind of set the tone for all those dark, stop-motion films that would come after it.
The plot of the movie is more lighthearted than that of Coraline, but the execution of the plot – especially in the way the monster creatures “make Christmas” by giving severed heads and snakes as presents – is just as dark as anything Coraline has to offer.
Plus, if you like the unusual – but catchy! – songs in Coraline, you’ll absolutely love Burton’s soundtrack for this film.
Corpse Bride (2005)
The second Burton film on our list, Corpse Bride isn’t quite as good as NBC, but it definitely comes close.
The movie is about an undead bride, Emily, and a young man named Victor who accidentally marries her when practicing his proposal to another, much more alive woman.
You’ll notice many Coraline-like vibes when Emily drags her new, unwitting husband into the land of the dead. It’s easily as spooky as the Other World in Coraline.
At its core, Corpse Bride is a love story, so the plots of the two movies are quite different. Still, they have many similar elements, particularly when comparing some of Coraline’s new neighbors to the odd creatures who inhabit the land of the dead.
Also, the jazzy soundtrack of the movie is superior to the music in Coraline, which is pretty great itself.
If the name of the movie ParaNorman, which is a play on the term “paranormal,” doesn’t tell you right off the bat that there are going to be some big similarities to Coraline, then somehow you missed all the magic and otherworldliness in the film.
Norman’s a shy boy who’s a bit of an outcast, due in large part to the fact that he can see and interact with the dead.
After a few twists, turns and hiccups, Norman accidentally botches a ritual that unleashes hordes of zombies into the real world, and it’s up to him to stop them and send them back where they belong.
Although the movie is about dead people and zombies, it’s actually a lot less dark than Coraline, and it includes more humor, normally of the slapstick variety.
However, the deeper, underlying message of the film is a sophisticated one that reaches beyond children and touches the hearts of adults.
In this way, the two movies are actually quite a bit alike because Coraline, too, has a deeper message that sometimes gets overlooked by children watching the movie.
Okay, I might as well tell you right now that this will not be the last Burton film you see on this list. I can’t help it; I love Tim Burton, and his movies just fit perfectly with the vibe that makes Coraline so special.
Frankenweenie is no exception. It started out as a short film by Burton, but he liked it so much, he decided to make it into a full-length feature.
It’s both a tribute and a bit of a parody of the traditional Frankenstein story, with the “Franken-monster” in this movie being a boy’s beloved dog.
Victor’s dog is hit by a car, and in a fit of grief and inspiration, Victor decides to bring him back from the dead.
Although the idea for this movie is supposed to be comedic in nature, the film actually comes off quite a bit creepier than Burton intended, making it fit right in with Coraline.
Additionally, both movies are quite heartwarming underneath all the creepiness, which also gives them a similar overall feel.
While I can’t claim this is one of my favorite movies on the list, like Coraline, it’s both very polarizing and has a huge cult following.
Watchers of this movie fall into one of two categories: people who loved the movie and people who didn’t like it because they didn’t really understand it. I happen to fall into the latter category, but even though I didn’t understand it, I can still see its similarities to Coraline.
It’s a rather dark movie that’s actually quite scary for young children, much like Coraline. It’s set in a dystopian society where the world has been destroyed and all that’s left are nine sentient beings who contain disparate elements of a single scientist’s personality. Did I mention this movie was a little hard to follow?
In addition to the darker elements, though, the two movies are also similar in their most prevalent message: Things are never quite as bad as they seem, so you can never give up hope.
Spirited Away (2001)
Although this movie is done in a more traditional, Japanese-style animation rather than stop-motion, these two movies have a lot in common, especially in terms of the plot.
They both feature young girls with no real parental figures. (In Spirited Away, Chihiro’s parents are turned into pigs by an evil witch; in Coraline, Coraline’s parents are too busy to really show her any type of affection or attention.)
Because of these circumstances, both girls find themselves going into other worlds. Coraline heads into the dark Other World where she meets the Other Mother and other button-eyed creatures who become darker and stranger each time she sees them.
Chihiro heads into the world of the Kami, or Japanese spirits. Both girls face incredibly dark circumstances, and they somehow have to find their way out of the worlds they’ve entered in order to reunite with their true families.
In most ways, Coraline is the creepier of the two movies, but there are also some pretty scary parts in Spirited Away that could be upsetting for younger children.
James and the Giant Peach (1996)
If you’re looking for movies like Coraline, you should definitely check out James and the Giant Peach, which is another animated film directed by Coraline‘s director, Henry Selick.
If you loved the animation, visual effects and pacing of Coraline, you’ll also love this flick. Although it isn’t nearly as dark and disturbing as Coraline, it does have the same type of feel to the animation and overall story.
It also has a very warm, inspiring message, just like Coraline. James is also similar to Coraline in that he has no parents; his were killed, forcing him to move in with his aunts, who aren’t all that nice to him.
When given a gift that allows him to grow a huge peach, though, his life starts to turn around a little. The big theme of JatGP is that you can’t become whole without first stepping up and facing your biggest fears. This is also reflected in Coraline.
The Hobbit (1977)
Okay, at first glance, these two animated films may not seem anything alike, but of all the cartoons in the world, these are the only two that ever truly gave me the hardcore chills, so there was no way I was going to leave The Hobbit off the list.
Even if they’ve never watched it, most people know the story of a young, peace-loving, excitement-hating hobbit being pulled into an adventure with a bunch of dwarfs and going through several dangerous trials and challenges.
What those same people may not know is how terrifying parts of this cartoon really are. Whether it’s Bilbo Baggins’ riddle game with Gollum in the dank cave or his sly manipulation of Smaug the dragon, this movie had me hiding my eyes several times as a child, and as an adult, those same parts still give me what my dad calls the “heebie jeebies.”
There’s also an underlying message of “the little guy” overcoming the “big bad” to ultimately triumph in both movies, and while not every song in The Hobbit is a hit, you’ll be singing “15 Birds Up Five Fir Trees” ad nauseam.
The City of Lost Children (1995)
Warning for Parents: This movie is Rated R!
While this isn’t an animated movie, it’s still one you should watch if you’re looking for movies like Coraline. It’s one of the strangest films I’ve ever seen, and parts of it are too weird and spooky to even describe.
It’s not a Burton film, but so much about it feels like a Burton film, which in turn makes it feel very Coraline-esque.
The movie has a simple enough plot: An evil scientist who can no longer dream tries to stave off death and become immortal by stealing the dreams of children. Eventually he steals the wrong child, and people come looking for him.
Whether it’s the terrifyingly weird “cyclopes,” the distorted camera angles or the creepy carnival-vibe (very reminiscent of Coraline), there’s definitely something about this film that you’ll find disturbing. Interestingly enough, though, that’s also what makes it pretty great to watch.
Isle of Dogs (2018)
Many people missed Isle of Dogs when it was first released, and that’s a shame because the movie was actually pretty awesome. I think a lot of people gave it a pass because it was done in such a strange style and had such an odd plot.
All dogs were banished to an island (Trash Island) after they were found to be the cause of a deadly disease, and a little boy goes there to search for his dog. People assumed they couldn’t possibly enjoy it.
It’s an unconventional movie to say the least, but that’s what makes it so good; it’s also what makes it so much like Coraline.
The animation style is eerily similar to the Selick film, and although neither Selick nor Burton were in any way involved with the movie, it seems exactly like something both of them would have been proud to call theirs.
The Boxtrolls (2014)
The same animation company that created Coraline also created another of my absolute favorite animated movies, The Boxtrolls. As a result, the visual style of both movies is very similar, and if you like one, you’re almost sure to like the other.
The plot of the movie follows a young orphan (Eggs) who grew up underground, living with strange creatures known as “Boxtrolls.”
When an exterminator (Snatcher) starts rounding up the Boxtrolls, Eggs does all he can to stop him and is forced to spend more and more time in the human world as a result.
While the plots of the two movies aren’t all that similar, the animation styles are nearly identical. There’s also a sense of whimsy, absurdity and nonsense (much like Alice in Wonderland is famous for) in both films that makes them a lot alike, despite being entirely different on the surface.
If your main reason for loving Coraline is that it was first a Neil Gaiman book, you definitely need to check out MirrorMask as well. The plots of the two movies are actually incredibly similar.
They both feature young girls who unjustly feel like they’re being mistreated at home, and it takes being thrown into alternate worlds – worlds that aren’t so friendly or kind – to make them realize their real lives aren’t nearly as bad as they first imagined them to be.
The story of MirrorMask is authentically Gaiman, and it also features visual effects by Dave McKean, who’s probably the most famous artist Gaiman works with in his comics and graphic novels.
The odd McKean visuals combined with the already dark plot make this movie over-the-top creepy and unsettling, but much like Coraline, there’s a really great story to tell underneath all the discomfort.
The whole movie is very Burton/Selick-like, and I promise you’ll find it incredibly interesting at the very least.
The Black Cauldron (1985)
It’s true that “scary movies” and “Disney” don’t tend to go hand-in-hand too often, but The Black Cauldron is the exception that proves the rule. This movie was so terrifying and spine-tingling when it came out that Disney was almost forced to give it an R-Rating!
While this one never scared me or creeped me out the way certain scenes in The Hobbit and Coraline did, I can definitely see why many children have bad dreams after watching this movie.
The movie was loosely based off a few books in The Chronicles of Prydain series by Lloyd Alexander, and while it changed a lot from the books, it hung onto enough of what made the books chilling and exciting to read at night to make the movie worth watching.
It’s set in the middle ages and follows the story of four “friends” in their efforts to stop the evil Horned King from getting an ancient cauldron whose magic will allow him to rule the world.
The good versus evil plot and the more truly terrifying aspects of the film usually go over well with Coraline fans.
Edward Scissorhands (1990)
This is yet another Tim Burton flick, and it’s one of my favorites. At first glance, it probably doesn’t seem like it would be all that similar to Coraline.
It’s live action as opposed to animation; it features a male as a main character, and the two stories have very different plots. Despite all that, though, there’s something about the two films that makes them quite similar, at least in the overall feel of them.
Although a story about a boy with scissors and other sharp blades for hands sounds like it should be the premise for a horror story, Edward Scissorhands is actually a lot less dark in tone than Coraline.
Even so, they have the same odd, surreal quality that makes you keep guessing about what’s really going on with the characters and the plots.
Furthermore, despite the lack of animation in Edward Scissorhands, the visuals of both movies are similar, with the brightly painted houses in contrast to Edward’s dreary upbringing putting you in mind of the color differences between Coraline’s real world and the Other World.
This is another one for the Gaiman-lovers to watch. In fact, most people – critics and average viewers alike – maintain that Stardust is the best Gaiman adaptation out there, better even than Coraline.
I love them both, so it’s hard for me to pick one over the other, and if you loved Coraline because of everything Gaiman did for it, you’ll love Stardust as well.
The two movies’ plots are vastly different. Stardust follows the story of a love-lost young man who sets out on an adventure to retrieve a fallen star as a means to get the woman he loves to marry him.
The similarities in the movies come in the pacing, the tone, the dialogue and the central conflict of a young, naive person being thrown into a world s/he isn’t really capable of understanding fully.
The magical world of Stardust also has a lot in common with the Other World in Coraline, even though Stardust isn’t an animated film.
Monster House (2006)
This movie is so much like Coraline because it has the perfect mixture of scariness and wholesome family fun, and yes, despite what some people think, Coraline is actually pretty wholesome underneath all the weird and scary.
This is another movie with an incredibly simple plot: Kids head into an old, abandoned house to see if it really is haunted like people say. Instead of ghosts, though, they soon find out the house itself has been possessed by an evil, violent spirit/ghost/demon-type thing.
If they want any chance of escape, they actually have to reason with the spirit and convince it to let them go. This, more than anything else, puts this movie in the same league as Coraline for me. In most movies like this, the kids would have to smash and bash their way out of the house.
Instead, they use reason, logic and compassion, three things for which Coraline is famous. Also like Coraline, there’s a whole lot more going on beneath the movie’s surface.
The Secret of Nimh (1982)
When I was a child, this was my absolute favorite cartoon, even though it scared me a little bit. It didn’t give me the true creeps like the scene with Gollum did in The Hobbit, but the scene where Mrs. Brisby meets Nicodemus with his slow, low speech and his glowing eyes always made me look around the room to make sure my mom was still in the house. The rats were incredibly spooky as well.
It’s that underlying tone of darkness and coldness offset by Mrs. Brisby’s warmth and Justin the rat’s charming personality that reminds me so much of Coraline. Although the two movies have their differences, they’re more alike than most people realize.
The beautiful lights and electricity in the rats’ home is also very reminiscent of Coraline visiting the “Mouse Circus” on one of her nightly expeditions, and although I know you’ll probably call me crazy, there’s just something about Jenner in Nimh that puts me in mind of the Other Mother. Maybe it’s just because they both give me the super creeps even to this very day.
All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989)
This is another of my childhood favorites, and it’ll always hold a special place in my heart. There isn’t a lot about it that makes it “like Coraline,” but if you like Coraline because it’s one of the few animated movies that has an unsettling, somewhat scary story, you’ll also dig All Dogs Go to Heaven. If you’ve never seen it, it’s actually got a really dark story for a children’s movie.
Charlie, a dog who runs with a pretty bad crew, gets drunk and is murdered when his boss purposely runs him over with a car. Even though all dogs are supposed to go to Heaven, Charlie hasn’t lived the best life, and he isn’t ready to die.
He steals a magical pocket watch that sends him back to Earth, dooming him to an eternity in Hell once he’s caught. Like I said, dark! If you’re looking for an animated movie like Coraline that’ll actually give you the chills, this is the one for you.
Plus, it’s soundtrack is even better than the one from Coraline.
Kubo and the Two Strings (2016)
Don’t let the name fool you; although it sounds like it should be a dubbed-over anime, it’s actually an American film produced in Hollywood. This is another movie on the list that isn’t one of my favorites, but it certainly has its fans.
It also has its similarities to Coraline. It follows the story of Kubo, a young boy with only one eye, who has the ability to do magic. The plot was a little thin to me, which is, I think, why I didn’t care for the movie.
Despite that, though, you’ll get some definite Coraline vibes from Kubo’s two friends, one a beetle who’s a former warrior and the other a talking monkey. It also features some serious cartoon violence that makes the movie darker and scarier than most films meant for children.
There’s also a similar story arc for the main characters in both movies, with both setting out on “quests” and discovering something about themselves along the way.
Hotel Transylvania (2012)
Okay, so Hotel Transylvania is in no way dark or scary, but it features a ton of famous movie and mythological monsters, so it’s automatically awesome. Additionally, every single one of my friends and family members who actually likes Coraline also loves this movie. I’m not sure what the connection is, but somehow there’s one there.
The two movies don’t have a ton in common. One is dark and scary; the other is light and full of silly jokes and comedy. One features very adult themes and plot points; the other is simple enough to be understood by five-year-old children.
Still, despite all that, they seem to have a very large, shared fan base. Maybe it’s because the same type of people who enjoy Coraline are also the types of people who enjoy classic monsters and old-school horror flicks.
This movie definitely incorporates – and mostly makes fun of – a lot of those old-school horror tropes. All the classic baddies are there, including Dracula, the Mummy, Frankenstein, several witches, the Invisible Man and more, but they aren’t really all that bad.
It’s actually a very sweet, silly movie about a human who unexpectedly finds himself in a monster hotel, where he soon falls in love with Dracula’s daughter. While it may not be super similar to Coraline, if you like one, you’ll almost certainly like the other.
Pan’s Labyrinth (2006)
Although the movie received excellent reviews and has an almost unheard of score of 95% on Rotten Tomatoes, many people either didn’t enjoy this film or passed it up completely.
Much of that was because the movie was in Spanish with English subtitles, but other people just claimed not to understand it. If you passed it up because the foreign language turned you off or you just thought you wouldn’t like it, you should really give it a chance now, especially if you love Coraline.
The two movies have so much in common. They both feature a sweet young girl who feels hopeless, neglected and mistreated.
The difference is that Ofelia in Pan’s Labyrinth actually is mistreated by her cruel stepfather, and just like Coraline, Ofelia finds herself in another, more magical world with creatures offering her something she can’t stand to refuse – the chance at a happier life.
Additionally, both movies have those same dark undertones that make you wonder if this really was supposed to be a kid’s movie or not.
Lemony Snicket’s A Series of Unfortunate Events (2004)
This movie features a lot of darkness, a little bit of magic (not real magic, more of a magical feeling) and strong, smart children having to best a much more powerful, dangerous foe.
It isn’t hard to see the parallels between those things and Coraline, and chances are, if you like one, you’ll also enjoy the other.
Furthermore, if you loved Coraline as a book first, you’ll probably also be impressed with Lemony Snicket’s source material, which is a series of books by the same name.
If you enjoy a story of underdogs triumphing over monumental odds and children finding themselves in situations entirely beyond their control, you’ll love this movie.
Charlie and the Chocolate Factory (2005)
At first you may not see the resemblance in this 2005 flick starring Johnny Depp and 2009’s Coraline, but I promise you, it’s there. First of all, we’ve already discussed how Burton-esque Coraline is, and Burton actually did direct Charlie and the Chocolate Factory.
While there’s nothing inherently mystical about Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory, it also gives off the same half magical/half creepy vibe that the Other World does in Coraline.
Plus, there are the pitfalls around every corner, just waiting on Charlie to take one wrong step, which is quite reminiscent of many of the important decisions Coraline makes in the Other World, and despite their obvious differences – man vs. woman, live action vs. cartoon – Depp’s Wonka is very Other Mother-like.
Over the Garden Wall (2014)
This isn’t one of the most well-known movies on the list, but it is one of the movies that’s probably the most like Coraline. It’s a dark fantasy children’s movie that features two young brothers finding their way into a magical world called “the Unknown.”
The world is more dangerous than it first appears, and soon the brothers realize they’re in over their heads. Then it’s up to them to use their wits to find their way home.
They also meet a lot of strange, interesting creatures along the way that will absolutely remind you of Wybie, Cat and all of Coraline’s other strange and interesting neighbors. It’s definitely one you should check out if you’re a Coraline fan.
Where the Wild Things Are (2009)
Despite both being based on popular children’s books, these two movies have a lot of other stuff in common.
Although the styles of the two movies are vastly different – Coraline is a stop-motion animated movie, Where the Wild Things Are is a combination of live action, animatronics and CGI – the plots and the themes in them are actually quite similar.
Just as Coraline feels lonely, dejected and neglected by her parents, Max is similarly upset and despondent over his mistreatment by bullies.
Coraline finds refuge in the Other World, while Max discovers a private island filled with giant, magical creatures and declares himself the king.
While on his private island, Max learns a lot of very important lessons about what it means to be kind, to be king and to grow up. Coraline learns similar lessons in her battle with the Other Mother. Both movies are also just strikingly beautiful in appearance as well.