5 O’clock Review: Stoker

Stoker is the first English language film from Park Chan-wook, the Korean director most famous for his Vengeance trilogy. Written by Wentworth Miller, most famous for his role in Prison Break, it has been pitched as Hitchcockian gothic drama.

Mia Wasikowaska plays the pale and interesting India Stoker who is mourning the death of her father and supporting her alcoholic mother (Kidman).  In a nod to Shadow of a Doubt Uncle Charlie (Goode) turns up at the funeral and moves in. From here the tension between the three and gossip from the surrounding town makes for a domestic fairytale going horribly. An unbalanced home already fraught with sexual tension and hostility, becomes the setting for mysterious disappearances and whispering shadows.

 

With noticeably less gore than the Vengeance trilogy, this should in theory make Stoker easier on the eyes. However, the dream-like aesthetic achieved through brilliant sound design and unbalanced camerawork makes the simple but effective violence even more jarring.

The duration of the suspense is close to overreaching itself but the payoff is ultimately worthwhile with India’s evolution from girl to woman. Chan-wook has talked about stripping the original script to make the film he wanted. His flowing style is as much a cause and effect of substance and story and therefore, with a recommendation to see the film, the review stops here.

Naomi Walmsley

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