Stoker (2013)

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Like most people, when you hear “Stoker,” you immediately associates it with vampires. To be quite honest, there’s been enough of those on film and television to last a lifetime. But when you hear it paired with the director of Oldboy and that guy from Prison Break, it does raise intrigue.

Stoker is the latest film by acclaimed Korean director Park Chan-Wook and features the debut screenplay of Wentworth Miller. After her father’s sudden death, loner India (Mia Wasikowska) meets her mysterious uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), a relative she’s never heard of. When her unstable mother (Nicole Kidman) invites him to stay, India’s curiosity in the enigmatic uncle grows along with the wrong side of sexual tension between the three family members.

In his first English-language film, Park brings his trademark dark and sinister style of filmmaking and manages to translate it to appeal to a Western audience.  Together with Miller’s somewhat simple dialogue, Park creates an atmosphere that is intriguing yet unnerving – a fitting canvas for such a chilling and sinister script.  The use of colour is quite effective, and along with the use of special effects placed sporadically throughout the film, shapes it into more than a twisted family drama; it transforms it into a non-conventionally threatening and slightly gothic story, paving its way for the three leads, who all portray a difference side of madness in their unique way.

Wasikowska’s indifferent India starkly contrasts with the actress’ previous roles: smart, fascinated with death, she is reminiscent of a cooler Wednesday Addams. She is more intriguing than Kidman’s emotionally reliant Evelyn, who makes it hard to sympathise with her shameless character as she doesn’t mourn her husband’s sudden death and chooses her brother-in-law for the attention and need to feel attractive. Finally shining in the same limelight, Matthew Goode gets a credible role to show off his talent; his creepy, disturbingly quiet demeanour is similar to his portrayal as Ozymandias from Watchmen and leads the viewer down the rabbit hole of his dark intentions.

Easily one of the best screenwriting debuts of recent years, Stoker is chillingly good; a stylish, visual treat; full of intrigue with three great lead performances.

Stoker is currently out in UK cinemas.

Director: Park Chan-wook
Stars: Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode
Runtime: 99 min
Country: USA, UK

Film Rating: ★★★★☆

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