Stoker Review

Movie: Stoker
By: Orlok
Date: June 10, 2013

Innocence ends

"Stoker" is Park's English-speaking debut, a neo gothic-styled story about the Stoker family which has a mysterious past. With his latest directional effort Chan-wook Park (Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy) easily combines a gothic setting with drama and mystery.

A mysterious uncle makes an appearance at the funeral of his brother, who died in a car accident. Without any plans to leave this Uncle Charlie slowly starts to obtain a place in the household of the freshly widowed Evelyn Stoker and her daughter India. While Evelyn welcomes the presence of the handsome, charming Charlie, India is put off by this uncle she was never told she had. While he is getting himself feeling at home India grows fixated on Charlie and his sudden appearance.


Here's Charlie!

When Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) makes his appearance you immediately know there's something about him and he's holding things back. When he pops up in a scene it's always with a 'I know more than you' nonchalance or in a more sinister, predatory way. He has that creepy smile he uses and every time you see it you know there's more to it.
Mia Wasikowska plays India incredibly well, starting off as a bored, young girl but turning into a woman throughout the events portrayed in the film. So there's definitely a bit of a coming of age aspect in this film as well, when she becomes more aware of herself and starts using to her advantage. It's a welcome change to see her in a role like this instead of Burton's "Alice in Wonderland" which didn't impress me much. Here she gets the room to shine against fellow actors in a suspense film that relies heavily on acting.


Along came a spider

In the cast the real stars are of course Goode and Wasikowska who play a game with each other, sometimes sensual, sometimes more violent but -and it's a bit awkward to write- there's definitely chemistry there. The scene in which India plays the piano and Charlie joins her is equally sensual and creepy (and even a bit campy, if you like).
In the game Charlie and India play Evelyn (Nicole Kidman) is more of a fifth wheel to them and her role is also smaller than those of Goode and Wasikowska.
Chan-wook Park knows how to handle complex characters and an intriguing story while putting it into a beautiful celluloid wrapper and with "Stoker" that hasn't changed. The use of symbols (for example the spider and India's shoes) is as simple as it is effective. Also, because of the feeling everything is executed so well you get the feeling even the smallest shots and phrases carry weight. There's occasionally a focus on details and sound, and the cutting between scenes is as natural as they are beautiful.


Confident chiller

Credit goes out Wentworth Miller (better known as the main character from "Prison Break"), who delivered this haunting story in which Park could sink his teeth in. With Park having teamed up once again with cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung (who also worked with Park from "Oldboy" onwards) you can be sure every part of the film is visually stunning.
While "Stoker" isn't Park's best film to date it has the ability to lure the viewer deeper and deeper in the story that slowly unfolds. From the stunning title design to the unconventional credits the film holds you in its grip. He's feeding the audience tidbits of information of the reasons why this Charlie suddenly pops up and what it's all about. As in his other films Park stays firmly in control of the story, unfolding it at a steady pace, leaving us guessing for the next hint.
"Stoker" manages to create an uncomfortable feeling but also a longing for how the story will develop. It isn't as breathtaking as his earlier directional efforts Park delivers with his first English language film a confident, haunting neo-gothic chiller.

Official Stoker site







Chan-wook Park






Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode and Nicole Kidman