GFF 2013: Stoker

Film Review by Josh Slater-Williams | 17 Feb 2013
Film title: Stoker
Director: Park Chan-wook
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, Nicole Kidman, Dermot Mulroney, Jacki Weaver, Ralph Brown, Alden Ehrenreich, Phyllis Somerville, Lucas Till
Release date: 1 Mar
Certificate: 18

Stoker marks the English language debut of contemporary South Korean cinema poster child Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, Thirst), and the film is full of the striking compositions and sweeping camera movements of his prior acclaimed work. Unfortunately, free of compelling, well-realised material to frame his style around, Stoker sees the director’s worst tendencies in full force; those of garish melodramatics and shallow showiness.

Following her father’s death, India (Wasikowska) becomes both unnerved and infatuated by her mysterious uncle Charlie (Goode) who has come to stay. Wentworth Miller’s asinine screenplay takes Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt as a vague reference point, but the relation is entirely superficial, with Stoker’s thriller elements free of actual thrills or suspense. Its gothic excesses, empty symbolism and ridiculous tangents make the darkness of the whole affair feel very silly, but not even in a deliriously enjoyable way, the result instead being mind-numbing tedium. There are still the odd pleasantly arresting sequences here and there, but by the film's end it seems apparent that no underlying purpose or thoughtful idea has actually driven this relentless, hollow mess. [Josh Slater-Williams]