‘Stoker,’ reviewed by Marshall Fine


Chan-wook Park’s “Stoker” is audaciously, in-your-face creepy and exhilarating in a way few films have been since David Lynch’s “Blue Velvet.” Because it’s not just the creepiness – but the way Park gets you involved in his world so that you can’t look away.

Written by Wentworth Miller (yeah, the guy from “Prison Break”) and Erin Cressida Wilson (whose credit reads “contributing writer”), “Stoker” is a Southern Gothic given a distinctive sense of dread. Park’s dynamic camera – active in ways that few Western directors seem to have discovered yet – keeps you aware of its movements, even as it forces you to contend with the feelings that those movements help create. As I wrote after I saw “Stoker” at Sundance in January, watching this film can be like taking an adrenaline shot to the cerebral cortex.

Park, whose films run from the brutal gangster-revenge movie “Oldboy” to the vampire version of Zola’s “Therese Raquin” called “Thirst,” wanders into the kind of Southern backdrop that inspired everything from “A Streetcar Named Desire” to “Night of the Hunter.” The Stoker family live in Tennessee, outside Nashville from the looks of it, and that Southern blend of charm and menace permeates the place.

Daughter India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) seems strangely distant after the news of the death of her father (Dermot Mulroney) in a car accident. She is emotionally remote, living in her own private buffer zone as she wanders through the funeral gathering, letting her hothouse flower of a mother, Evelyn (Nicole Kidman), cope with the demands of family and friends.

India, however, is intrigued by the arrival of her Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode). She never knew her father had a brother; he’s never been spoken about in the Stoker home, though he seems interested in and protective of India. He’s been traveling all these years, she’s been told, though where and why seem to be off-limit subjects.

But little things about him convince her that there is something unsavory about Uncle Charlie.

This review continues on my website.

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