Stoker [Celluloid Hero]
I am a huge fan of South Korean director Chan-wook Park. I think the best word to describe most of his movies is “brutal”; they’re not just gore-for-gore’s-sake horror movies, although there is usually a generous amount of blood. His movies are beautifully shot, and it’s always an interesting contrast of the brutality of what is going on on-screen compared to the calmness of the camera work.
Mia Wasikowska plays India Stoker, a teen girl who is suffering great emotional trauma after the death of her father. The accident occurs on her 18th birthday, which is also marked by the introduction of her father’s brother, an uncle she had never met. Uncle Charlie is suave and charming; still, India hesitates to accept him into her life, while her mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman) takes an immediate liking to Charlie.
A series of violent events end up bringing India closer to Charlie, close enough to discover an unnerving secret. The movie builds slowly through the first half, but once things start to be revealed, everything spirals faster and faster. Sex is mixed with violence, violence is mixed with sex, and a lot of people die.
While I was watching I didn’t necessarily notice this, but in retrospect each character had a dark side hidden from the world, and each actor had the perfect eyes. Matthew Goode plays Uncle Charlie, and is an absolutely ideal choice. Goode is a charming, handsome actor, but always has some darkness in his eyes. Uncle Charlie was smooth and polished on the exterior but hid some major skeletons in his closet. Nicole Kidman also has developed the “crazy eyes” lately, still maintaing some hotness while making you feel like you might fall asleep next to her, then wake up bound to the bed. Mia Wasikowska also has deep eyes, and gave a maturity level that was beyond the years of her teenage character.
This was Chan-wook Park’s first movie made in English, so for those who fear subtitles, this would be a good introduction to his work. For a creepy, unsettling, psychological horror movie, this is definitely a good choice.
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On the [Celluloid Hero] scale, “Stoker” gets an 8 out of 10.