Since I saw his film ‘Oldboy‘ in 2003, Park Chan-wook has been one of my favorite directors. I was in complete awe of that movie and immediately needed to find out what else he had done. Upon some research, I ended up buying ‘Sympathy for Mr. Vengenace’, and loved that flick too. Since then, I’ve tried to see everything Park has made, including ‘Lady Vengeance’ and his vampire film ‘Thirst’. Now, Park’s first English-language film, titled ‘Stoker’, proves that the Korean director still has what it takes to be at the top of his trade.
I have no doubt that you’ll leave the theater creeped out, puzzled and possibly terrified after watching ‘Stoker’. Park has created a very suspenseful and incredibly eerie blood-spattered thriller. At first, I didn’t know what to expect from the film, since it was written by Wentworth Miller, the lead actor from the hit TV series ‘Prison Break’. No need to worry, with Park’s eye and Miller’s writing, this golden piece of cinema will resonate for years to come.
The story centers on a teenage girl named India (Mia Wasikowska). The unexpected death of her father (Dermot Mulroney) leaves India and her mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman) alone in a big house. At the funeral service, she meets her uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), who she never knew about and who claims that he has been traveling and working abroad for many years.
As the day goes long, Charlie’s attitude and mannerisms become very unsettling. The tension between him and Evelyn is so thick that you can pour it over pancakes. India knows something isn’t right. Charlie then decides to stay in the house for a while. From here, we learn more about Charlie and some very dark family secrets that shouldn’t be let out.
Miller took his cues from Alfred Hithcock’s 1943 film ‘Shadow of a Doubt’, with which ‘Stoker’ shares characters and the beginning of the plotline. Reportedly, Miller is already writing a prequel to the film. His screenplay is pretty good, but where it has gaps, Park takes over with his astounding visual style, which will leave viewers constantly on edge. Sound effects are heightened for even the most minute noises, which made me squirm and sweat.
The acting is exceptional all around. Kidman does an amazing job as a mother who would rather shop than take care of her kid, and Goode might just win an award for playing the creepiest guy on film. His performance and the way he acts around India are truly unsettling. Wasikowska is the headline here as she plays an off-beat teenager with a sinister urge to perfection, who never really lets us know which way she wants to go. Does she want become a warrior or does she want to become the monster? ‘Stoker’ will leave you disturbed for days, but wanting to come back for more.