Thursday, January 9, 2014

Stoker: Review

Korean director Park Chan-wook has made some unsettling films including Oldboy, Three...Extremes, and Thirst, but for his English-language debut he choose the very adult-oriented Stoker. Written by actor Wentworth Miller and produced by Ridley Scott, this deeply disturbing and atmospheric film starts with very stylized shots and odd angles lingering on a dreamy summer day and India Stoker (played with mysterious aplomb by Mia Wasikowska). There's a jarring cut to funeral scene where Nicole Kidman is already worked up into a full lather of mourning. At once you know this will be some sort of unsettling ride but the pace is agonizingly sluggish letting every unnerving and awkward moment settle on a the screen like a feather wafting onto a sticky floor. Little by little the plot gurgles and thickens as India's enigmatic uncle – an astonishing performance by Matthew Goode – makes good a promise to his now dead brother. You never quite know where it's going, but the turns are surprising. Ultimately what starts as a family drama becomes a psychological thriller then a horror film that stands as a direct ode to Alfred Hitchcock. Highly recommended as an art house film for grown ups who scoff at horror.




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