They’re creepy and they’re kooky, it’s the Stoker family. Luke Brookman’s review of Park Chan-wook‘s gothic horror flick…
The Low Down: When Eve’s (Nicole Kidman) husband dies she invites his estranged brother Charlie (Matthew Goode) to come live with her and her oddball daughter India (Mia Wasikowska). India begins to suspect that Charlie may not be what he seems and sets out to investigate…
Review: Stoker is critically-acclaimed South Korean director Park Chan-wook‘s (Oldboy) first English language film. It is a film rich in symbolism and allegory – a meta-textual piece that references everyone from Hitchcock and Freud to Sirk and, yep you guessed it, Stoker. Bram Stoker’s iconic tale Dracula is a clear influence here. This is, like Dracula, a story about the loss of innocence; the journey to adulthood. Park has crafted a master piece centered around an age-old tale.
The visuals here are ingenious, and to some regard ground-breaking. The images conjured are drenched in meaning, but whether or not we understand the message becomes irrelevant when such elegant beauty is presented. Regular Park cinematographer Chung Chung-hoon is on fine form presenting this year’s best visuals; even topping the poetic Life of Pi.
The story, written by, believe it or not, Prison Break’s Wentworth Miller, is perhaps the weakest point of an otherwise flawless piece of art. This is not to say that the story does not thrill and entertain, but it is somewhat simple. But the simplicity complements the complex images so beautifully, with images and looks conveying what words cannot. The central themes of the piece are allowed to flourish under Park’s intelligent direction.
The Best: Park’s inventive images are worthy of their own Tate Modern exhibition. From blood drenched lilies to Hitchcockian elegance, we are delivered profound images so complex and so beautiful you’ll find yourself in tears due to an inability to blink.
The Worst: There is no doubt this film will not be for all. It is a slow burner that never seeks to explain itself. For those looking for a bloody fanged, chainsaw wielding horror fest look elsewhere.
Verdict: Stoker is a gorgeous film complete with original and thought provoking imagery. Park has managed to move away from the blood and action revenge flicks he was known for into something more magical and twisted. A masterclass in horror and coming of age, this is one of those films that will stay with you well beyond the closing credits.
Celluloid Influences: Psycho + Edward Scissorhands = Stoker