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Stoker

Stoker

A less than stellar script is salvaged by some creative imagery from visionary director Park Chan-Wook in his English-language film.

Stoker
Director: Park Chan-Wook (2013)

From the director of “Oldboy” (not the upcoming remake by Spike Lee) comes Park Chan-Wook’s official introduction to America, “Stoker,”  a creepy tale of a mother and daughter in the aftermath of the death of the man of the house. This man, Richard Stoker, has an unknown brother, Charlie (Matthew Goode), who shows up upon hearing about the death of Richard. He plans to stay with the mother, Evelyn (Nicole Kidman), and daughter, India (Mia Wasikowska), to help them through the difficult time. But, why hadn’t  Evelyn or India ever heard of Charlie? Because Richard thought it best they not know of him.

After finishing the film, it’s evident that Richard was correct. Charlie comes off as kind and caring but is characterized mysteriously. Is he truly just a caring Uncle or is there something else to him? Well, predictably, he is not just a caring Uncle, nor is he a grieving brother. He has his own motives. India doesn’t buy into his actions from the start and she has good reason not to.

In the end, the story comes down to a mysterious relative who moves in causing interference in the already damaged dynamic of the Stoker family. Wentworth Miller’s script doesn’t quite pack enough punch or create enough drama for Chan-Wook’s visuals to be fully effective. There are a couple of plot turns to keep the story moving, but they are truly not head-turning enough. That being said, Chan-Wook’s vision for graphic matches between scenes, vivid, sometimes very bloody imagery, and his ability to maneuver the camera around character blocking is something to behold. He is a true talent behind the camera and he has the talent in front of the camera to make an above satisfactory film, yet Chan-Wook isn’t fully able to overcome Miller’s script.

As an aside, while “Stoker” has its struggles, I highly encourage people to see Chan-Wook’s “OldBoy” before Spike Lee Americanizes it.

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3 / 5 stars     

About Greg Davis

Greg Davis is a graduate of the University of Florida with a major in English and a concentration in Film and Media Studies. He is currently residing in Los Angeles working as a production assistant.