Stoker (UK-US, 2013)

Who's the nuttiest?

Who’s the nuttiest?

What happens when the director of the Vengeance trilogy (that culminated in the demented Oldboy, Korea, 2003) goes to Hollywood? Actually, not quite Hollywood as this is a Scott Bros. production (Tony’s last) and wears its indie sensibilities with its $15m budget. Park Chan-wook in America, certainly, but creating a particular Gothic world that is too uncomfortable for the mainstream.

What a cast; for the money or otherwise. I’ve despaired recently about Nicole Kidman, who seemed to have gotten lost in Hollywood, but she does a brilliantly brittle turn as the mother of the bullied, yet sinister, India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska – very good). Similarly excellent is Matthew Goode, all sinister charm, as Uncle Charlie who seems to have stepped out of Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt (1943). Hitch visited small town America; Park visits the Gothic; the film’s title is a tribute to Bram.

Park certainly has an eye for composition and there are some stunning set ups and the cinematography, Chung Chung-hoon, is great. While there are some gut-wrenching moments, it’s not as visceral as Oldboy (well, not much is) and the horror is nicely balanced between shock and suspense.

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3 comments

  1. keith1942

    I was disappointed by the film. ‘Don’t go to Hollywood’ should be the mantra for World Cinema filmmakers: I don’t think John Woo has made anything approaching his Hong Kong work in the movie capital. Visually the film is impressive, but plot and story-wise, not really. I think the problem is mainly in the screenplay. After seeing the film I and another viewer discussed how many redrafts might be needed.
    And what’s with all the Hitchcock references. My fellow viewer advised me that they had taken out quite a few already at the script stage.

    • nicklacey

      Well as I noted, it’s not strictly Hollywood; maybe ‘don’t go to America’! I don’t think it compares to the ‘Vengeance trilogy’ but it is a successful genre piece; the Hitchcock references suggest playfulness rather than seriousness.

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