Sunday, 24 March 2013

Stoker

"Stoker" (2013, Park Chan-wook, Scott Free Productions, Indian Paintbrush, Fox Searchlight Productions) is more of a tense, slow burning, intellectual thriller than a horror movie. And it has nothing to do with vampires.

India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) is an 18 year old girl who lives with her mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman) and father Richard (Dermot Mulroney) in a grand house. She is an intelligent introvert who doesn't like to be touched. And something about her makes her different from others.

When her father dies in a car accident on her 18th birthday, India feels suddenly alone. After the funeral, she is introduced to her Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), whom she neither met before nor had even heard of. Her mother throws herself unceremoniously at Charlie, while India is cautious of the strange man.

It becomes apparent that Charlie is indeed more than he appears and has a very dangerous side. But India begins to find herself sharing traits with her uncle. She has to decide whether to be like him or to be something else.

A very artistic film, I found the camera work fascinating, especially the creative scene transitions. Some people might find these a bit ostentatious, but I thought they were really pleasing to the eye and helped to build the feeling that each character is trying to work out what the other characters are thinking.

The horror to this tale isn't anything bloody or even the actual violent scenes in the film (of which there are several), but the building dread as we see our lead character grow into a person that we hoped she wouldn't. It's a nice visual study on human emotions and our darker thoughts.

Not a happy film by any means, there are some tense sexually themed moments and some dark drama as we follow the film's overall theme of growing up. The atmosphere is a little mixed with the large house with servants and the clothing of the main characters feeling more old-world, while obviously existing in the modern day. There's also a weird shoe fetish going on.

But, I really liked it and would see it again! Not one for the gore-hunters, but certainly a dark and intriguing hit.

[Image: Fox Searchlight Productions]

Hani