Stoker, celebrated Korean director Chan-wook Park’s English-language debut, is a dark, disturbing and diabolical film about an introspective young girl named India who witnesses the loss of innocence following the sudden and untimely death of her beloved father. In Stoker, Park’s fixation for the bizarre and the morbid is once again on full display. But, he is clearly a bit more cautious than usual. He seems to keep his characters on a tight leash for a much longer duration, and this makes the movie’s first half appear much slower and less hyper than a typical Park film. But, once the dust settles down, the viewer is treated to sheer mastery of Park’s craft.
In Stoker, Park pays homage to the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. Those who have seen Hitchcock’s 1943 thriller Shadow of a Doubt wouldn’t find it hard to draw parallels. Park limns a colorful canvas like only he can and his characters tread it like spirits caught in a limbo. While the characters are highly emotional, their strangely selfish actions make it difficult for the viewers to sympathize with them. Chung-hoon Chung’s alluring cinematography gives the movie a hypnotic feel. The acting of movie’s three lead characters viz. Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, and Matthew Goode is quite brilliant and in that order.
Overall, Stoker is an intriguing work of cinema that despite managing to stoke the fire of curiosity may still leave any keen-eyed, intelligent viewer high and dry. Those accustomed to watching the quintessential Hollywood product are likely to find Stoker very strange and deeply disturbing. But, if you are looking for something different to break your monotonous daily routine then Stoker will surely not disappoint you. 8/10
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