Director: Chan-wook Park
Starring: Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode and Mia Wasikowska
Synopsis: After India’s father dies, her Uncle Charlie, who she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her unstable mother. She comes to suspect this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives and becomes increasingly infatuated with him.
Stoker is a strange, beautiful, horrifying and at times awkward film. It’s not an easy film to watch, or indeed to get in to. The pacing of the film is slow and will try some people’s patience. That’s not to say you shouldn’t give it a chance though.
Matthew Goode plays Charlie Stoker, brother to the deceased Richard and Uncle to India Stoker. Charlie has youth, good looks and charm all on his side. These qualities make an impression on Nicole Kidman’s Evelyn, not to mention the young and impressionable India.
India has a strange infatuation with her Uncle. An infatuation shared by, though not comparable, to her mothers interest in Charlie. Both fight for his attention to begin with, though it soon becomes clear his real interest lies in India and that everyone else is simply in his way.
As previously mentioned, the story takes its time to play out. Allowing the characters to breathe and develop, and to let the audience grow familiar with these characters and their surroundings. The Stoker house, where a lot of the film takes place, slowly turns into a claustrophobic tomb, whereby even the audience can begin to feel trapped. Yes it’s a grand mansion, set in isolation in the American countryside, but it constantly feels tiny and cramped. Kudos to the director, Chan-wook Park, in pulling this effect off.
Stoker is Parks first English language film, based upon the script written by Wentworth Miller, yes he of Prison Break fame. Park has crafted a beautiful looking film, full of stunning imagery and cleverly done editing. The violence is this film is rarely gratuitous or excessive, until the finale anyway.
Despite being almost universally applauded, Stoker does have it faults. It can be very slow at times, even the running time of 1 hour 38 seems a tad excessive. There are moments in the film that require some suspension of disbelief and can take away from the reality of certain scenes and plot points. However, in the grand scheme of things these are all forgivable.
Stoker is not a first date kind of movie, nor is it a rollicking blockbuster to leave you on the edge of your seat. It is however, a very well crafted, stunningly shot and well acted horror/thriller.It won’t be to everyone’s taste I agree, but for those who are patient, the payoff won’t disappoint.