Directed by Chan-wook Park
Written by Wentworth Miller
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode
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.
“My ears hear what others cannot hear; small faraway things people cannot normally see are visible to me. These senses are the fruits of a lifetime of longing, longing to be rescued, to be completed. Just as the skirt needs the wind to billow, I’m not formed by things that are of myself alone. I wear my father’s belt tied around my mother’s blouse, and shoes which are from my uncle. This is me. Just as a flower does not choose its color, we are not responsible for what we have come to be. Only once you realize this do you become free, and to become adult is to become free.” – India Stoker
The above quote from Stoker‘s lead, Mia Wasikowska, the oddly introverted and inquisitive, India Stoker, speaks volumes about this film. This is a feature made for fans of darkly romantic atmosphere and familial intrigue. Pak nails his performance, directing his gifted cast to the best of their abilities. A young girl, India, suddenly loses her father and as she copes with her internal and external loss, she meets her father’s brother, Charles (Goode), an uncle she never knew existed. Add a generous amount of blue blooded wealth, including a stunning home and creepy grounds, and you have a marvelous set up for a creepy thriller that relies on acting and directing versus jump-out scares or the usual stale and overused horror tropes.
For fans of Hitchock, this film will be a treat that harkens back to Shadow of a Doubt – for traditional fans of multiplex Hollywood template films, this will be mostly received as “weird”. For the keen-eyed film lover, Stoker, plays out with articulated emotional power and raw intrigue. The tone and mood of the film are wonderfully dark, keeping it just a hair shy of being called a horror film, yet, far too dark and shrouded to be called a standard drama. In the end, I found Stoker to be both emotionally sustaining as well as eye candy for lovers of darkly enduring movies. Stoker might not land in your top ten, but it’s one of the few films I’ve seen lately that pulled me in without my permission, lulling the viewer into a shadowed mystery that kept me uncomfortable until the end.