Stoker (2013)

Do Not Disturb the Family.

South Korean Director Chan-wook Park has always had a knack for making dark, morbid films, with Old Boy (2003) and Thirst (2009) being prime examples of his masterful work in cinema thus far, however in Stoker, his first English language film, things seemed to have been dialed down a notch.

After the loss of her father and best friend Richard (Dermot Mulronry), India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) is finding it difficult to move on with her sombre life. Things become more complicated when her mysterious Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) suddenly appears and moves in to her woodsy family estate along with her unstable mother Evie (Nicole Kidman). While India originally suspects that Charlie is in town to fill the void left by her father’s passing, she soon discovers that her charming Uncle has ulterior motives.

Family Bonding Time.
Family Bonding Time.

Rather than being suspenseful, Stoker moves at a slightly slow pace and for the most part is utterly lifeless. ‘Yes,’ it looks great, beautifully choreographed and sporting some of the best shots seen in cinema this year, but actor-turned-writer Wentworth Miller’s script is quite dreary, as it’s obvious from the get go that both India and Charlie are insane, yet it takes about one hundred minutes to get to the point. Surprisingly Miller’s screenplay is also rather cliché with very little characterization and a lack of interesting scenes.

Matthew Goode does a credible job as the puzzling Uncle Charlie, though he doesn’t really have much to do here, bar walk around and smile. Nicole Kidman simply does what she’s been doing in film for the past few years and that is act strange, while lead Mia Wasikowska plays her oddball part by being subtle and merely having whiter than white skin.

'Bewitched' was not a bad film!
‘Bewitched’ was not a bad film!

Chan-wook Park directs in the vain of his other pictures, but results are watered down and less edgy than his previous works. It’s not all bad as Stoker does have some rather intense moments towards the end of the film, but they are few and far between. It’s rather clear that Chan-wook Park hasn’t been given the ability to fully let loose, ultimately hurting the potential of the film.

While Stoker had great promise, it ultimately missed the mark as a whole. If you’re a fan of Chan-wook Park’s work, spending a night with Lady Vengeance would be much more favorable.

2.5 / 5 – Alright

Reviewed by Mr. Movie

Stoker is released through 20th Century Fox Australia