"Stoker" -- movie review
Release date: March 22, 2013
Directed by: Chan-wook Park
Written by: Wentworth Miller
When her father dies mysteriously, young India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) feels like she has nothing else in her life. She had an incredibly close relationship with her father, played by Dermot Mulroney in flashbacks, but a rather chilly relationship with ice queen mother, played by Nicole Kidman, who looks bored and disinterested during the entire movie. Now that dad is gone, India wonders who will give her life purpose. Enter the creepy and weird Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode, "Match Point", "Watchmen"), who nobody seemed to know about until the funeral.
Charlie shows up with a clear interest in India. Right off the bat, it seems entirely inappropriate. He likes to stand around in corners, leering at her with a creepy, puckered face. India notices, but nobody else seems to care, including her mother who always appears to be in some sort of unexplained drunken trance. The guy clearly has designs for India, although they stay unknown until the movie is just about over. He shows up, acts weird and starts killing people. At first it's a maid but quickly evolves into anyone that has any suspicions of him.
India soon suspects her uncle of being behind the disappearances and killings, but the more she learns -- or less -- the more intrigued she is by him. It seems that all those hunting trips with dear old dad gave India a bit of a blood lust, as well. She likes it and gets off on it -- literally. To go into the rest of what is going on in this flick wouldn't be doing it any justice. There is a big reveal but it comes so late in the film that it never feels organic with the rest of the film.
The cast is solid but most of them look like a deer in headlights most of the time. Academy Award winner Kidman spends most of her screen time passed out in the background as if her character has some sort of drinking problem that was written out of the script at the last minute. She's supposed to be grieving but we're never convinced they had much of a loving relationship with her deceased husband. Wasikowska is about the only one that feels like a likable person but she's stuck in a misguided movie and by the end, her character is just as misguided as everyone else.
Then there is Matthew Goode, who does nothing more than stand around wide-eyed looking like a pervert who is trying his damnedest not to look like a pervert. Tip: if you're going to be an weird, psychopathic, perverted killer, you might want to try and act like you're not a weird, psychopathic, perverted killer. His character is easily one of the most unnerving villains in a long time, but he comes off more like a soap opera character most of the time. This is the biggest problem and ultimately what kills the film -- the characters never feel real.
Directed by Chan-wook Park, who has been behind the camera for much better films, "Oldboy" for one; and written by Wentworth Miller -- yeah, the dude from "Prison Break" -- the film never gets past that initial set up of everything and everyone action strange and bizarre. This is Park's first English speaking film. It looks great and feels creepy but the characters and their motivations never logical. It's a suspense-thriller that has an art house look and a pretentious B-movie horror script.
"Stoker" received a lot of attention at Sundance this year but it's one of the mostly wildly bizarre and ridiculous movies of the year, and we haven't even gotten into the thick of mindless summer movie season yet. It's a weird movie, that is incredibly vague and annoyingly overly mysterious but it never vibes and it hardly makes any actual sense.
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