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Week 4 - December 3rd, 2013


Stoker owes a lot to Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt, so much that a character in the film is actually named Uncle Charlie. The two films share a lot in common in Chan-wook Park's english debut.

Stoker tells the story of a young socially awkward girl named India, whose father just died. His brother decides to visit in their time of grief and she sense something dangerously mysterious about him, which she finds infatuating.

Written by Wentworth Miller, yes, of Prison Break fame, the script is surprisingly well written and with the aid of Matthew Goode, Stoker delivers an unnerving antagonist in Uncle Charlie. A man sweet, handsome and innocent on the outside, but hiding some deep dark secrets within. Not everything is roses, since people who seem to know his past are very uneasy around him and tend to disappear.

Stoker has a lot of things that stand out, visually the film is crafted by a master. Chan-wook Park, whom you may know from his other films; Oldboy, Sympathy for Lady Vengeance and Thirst, delivers yet another visually impressive film. Park is known for violence, but here he holds back and instead, he builds tension and thrills through the characters. When violence does erupt on the screen, it's that more effective.

I must point out the sound design though, as it is something that not many people tend to notice, but Park purposely put front and centre here. It's so detailed and fine tuned that it feels like a character itself. Key elements are sharpened with the ear when paid attention to.

The film has it's faults, no doubt. It's cold, very cold. Not a single character in this film will you be able to connect to. They are written that way, they are acted that way and they are directed that way. Mia Wasikowska plays India and Nicole Kidman her mother. Both seem overshadowed by the suave Goode with his piercing eyes. I've never seemed to be smitten with Mia Wasikowska's work. She always comes off as wooden as a board, she's lucky that it works for the character here.

There is enough mystery to unravel here in the story to be intrigued. The film reveals bits and pieces at the right moments, leaving you with this uneasy feeling that just won't go away. A welcomed surprise.