The Other Mother (also known as Beldam) is the main antagonist of the 2009 stop-motion animation horror fantasy film Coraline, which in turn is based on Neil Gaiman's 2002 horror fantasy novel of the same name. She is considered to be one of the most disturbing villains in the animated/children's genre and is also ranked #9 for the 10 Worst Moms in Movies by IFC.
The Other Mother is the tall, arachnid demonic ruler of the Other World, which is located behind a small door in the main living room of the Pink Palace, a Victorian-styled apartment in Ashland, Oregon. There is only one key to open the door and the key itself resembles a button. Her notable traits include her black, button eyes and her sharp needle-like fingers. The Other World is intially seen as wonderful paradise but the entirety of the universe is in fact a gigantic spiderweb.
She is presumably as old as the Pink Palace itself and according to Coraline's father, the Pink Palace is approximately 150 years old. In order to continue her demonic existence, the Other Mother steals the eyes and souls of human children and she consumes their flesh afterwards as nourishment. Her victims tend to be bored and neglected children who wish for a better life filled with fun and joy.
Despite her mysterious origins, the Other Mother possesses a great variety of skills and abilities and one of her best skills include manipulating her victims into trusting her and making them stay in the Other World with her.
Initially, as soon as a family with a child moves into the Pink Palace, the Other Mother sews a ragdoll with button eyes in her sewing room that resembles the child of the particular family and she later sends the doll into the real world by throwing it into a void outside the window of the sewing room.
After the unfortunate child picks up the ragdoll, the doll soon spies on every aspect of the child's life and this serves as the Other Mother's spy camera. Once she has an overall idea of the child's everyday life, she enhances the Other World with lively decorations and creating better duplicates of the people that live in the child's real world. In order for the child to trust and even love her, the Other Mother disguises herself as the ideal and often prettier and healthier version of the child's mother (hence her name).
At night, the Other Mother sends her loyal army of rats into the child's bedroom to wake them up and the rats soon lead the child to a small door in the living room downstairs, which is revealed to contain an enchanted and colourful tunnel to the Other World. The child is then blinded by the joy and happiness that the Other World offers to them so much that they don't sense anything evil about the Other Mother. After several nights visting the Other World, the Other Mother offers the child to stay in the Other World forever by allowing her to sew buttons over their eyes, which she claims that they would give the child endless happiness and joy. The child is often compliant to her offer and as soon as they accept it, the Other Mother gouges their eyes out and gruesomely sews the buttons over their eye sockets.
It is implied that as soon as their eyes are taken out, their souls are also taken out as well, which is why throughout the movie, the Other Mother refuses to release the real eyes of her previous victims. The Other Mother then delightfully consumes the child's flesh, presumably in her spiderweb as she is an arachnid being and like other arachnids, they prefer to eat their prey in their webs. Afterwards, the Other Mother imprisons the child's soul behind a magic mirror, where they suffer in misery and torment for eternity. The memories of their real family in the real world slowly fades during their spiritual imprisonment.
One of her first victims mentioned in the film include a boy, a tall girl and the long lost twin sister of the current landlord of the Pink Palace and they are also known as the Ghost Children. Ever since the unexplained disappearance of her twin sister, the landlord decided to not allow any families with young children in the Pink Palace as she feared that the Other Mother will continue her murderous rampage. However, it is unknown why she allowed the Joneses family to move into the apartment as they had one daughter named Coraline Jones. Throughout her stay in the Pink Palace, Coraline became bored of her busy parents and her lousy neighbours and she is especially annoyed by a moody, black cat and the grandson of the landlord, named Wybie Lovat. Like the previous victims, Coraline received a ragdoll with button eyes that resembled herself.After being lured to the small door by Other Mother's rats, Coraline is initially amazed by the beauty and glory of the Other World and like the other children, she fell into the trap of trusting and loving the Other Mother. Despite warnings from her neighbours and the mysterious cat, Coraline continued to visit the Other World as if nothing sinister was present until the Other Mother offered her a chance to stay in the Other World forever by allowing her to sew buttons over her eyes. Disgusted by the concept, Coraline attempts to flee the Other World to no avail and as she flees, she meets the cat again, who tells her the true motive of the Other Mother and the cat is revealed to be the greatest enemy of the Other Mother. The cat then captures and eats one of the Other Mother's rats as pleasure. Meeting the Other Mother in the living room, Coraline demands her to let her go home to her real family but the Other Mother becomes furious at Coraline for disobeying her and suddenly, she transforms into a tall and frightening creature. The Other Mother then throws her into the magic mirror as punishment and this is where Coraline meets the previous victims and she recognises one of them as the missing twin sister of the landlord. The Ghost Children plead her to find their real eyes as the Other Mother kept them for years and Coraline promises them that she will retrieve their real eyes.
Finally able to return to the real world, Coraline is horrified that her parents are missing and she is annoyed that no-one would do anything about it. The cat then tells her that her parents were kidnapped by the Other Mother and this causes Coraline to challenge her to a game, in which she must find the eyes of the Ghost Children and her parents successfully. The Other Mother accepts her deal reluctantly and she gives her a clue by telling her that the three eyes are located in the three wonders made just for her. Each time Coraline discovers an eye in each wonder, the surroundings turn grey and transform into stone. Ultimately, the black cat aids her in successfully finding the three eyes before the entire Other World disintegrates into a blank void until only the Other Mother's living room remained, where the Other Mother waited for her true form. Coraline shows the three eyes to her in the living room but the Other Mother refuses to accept that she had won the game.Knowing that the Other Mother will not free her and her parents, Coraline distracts her by telling her that her parents are behind the small door. As she is busy walking towards the door, the cat shows Coraline a snowglobe on the mantelpiece, which contains her parents inside. At the same time, the Other Mother coughs out the key and unlocks the small door and as she proudly exclaims that Coraline will stay here forever. Coraline refuses to as she hurls the cat onto the Other Mother's face. The cat furiously rips out the button eyes of the Other Mother as Coraline quickly grabs the snowglobe and despite being blinded, she furiously reprimands her and transforms the floor into a gigantic spiderweb.
Hunting Coraline through the vibrations, the Other Mother quickly catches up to her in the tunnel of the small door but Coraline kicks her head away. With the help of the Ghost Children, Coraline manages to slam the door onto the Other Mother's hand, severing it. After locking the Other Mother inside out, she screams horrendously at her that she will die without her as she bangs onto the door desperately trying to reach her. Coraline locks the other side of the door quickly as the banging causes the objects in her real living room to collapse. Seeing the same snowglobe that she saw in the Other World in the real world broken, Coraline realises that her parents have escaped and she began to redeem herself by appreciating them more.
At night, she meets the Ghost Children in her dream who told her that they finally made their way to Heaven. However, they warn her of possible danger as the Other Mother was still angry at her as Coraline had the key. Realising that the Other Mother will continue her murderous rampage if she kept the key, Coraline planned to throw the key into a deep well in the garden of the Pink Palace. Right before she could throw the key away, the Other Mother's detached hand breaks free into the real world and it follows her and strangles her as it drags her to the Other World.
Fortunately, Wybie grabs the hand off Coraline's neck but the hand causes him to nearly fall into the well. Coraline attempts to capture it with her towel but Wybie grabs a nearby rock and throws it onto the hand, crushing it into pieces. Wrapping the rock, key and the remains of the Other Mother's hand with the towel, they discard it into the well and once that was done, they plan to tell the landlord about what happened to her missing twin sister the next day. It is presumed that the Other Mother starved to death alone as she was permanently locked inside out from the real world.