INTRODUCTION. Fairy tales are innately dark and deviant territory. Chan-wook Park’s divine cinematography and transitioning lend an ethereal atmosphere to this disquieting thriller, complimented by a cast of equally surreal quality.
CHARACTERS. As Stoker‘s publicity posters suggest, our three primary characters exist within an atypical familial dynamic. At center stage we have the sullen India Stoker who has recently turned eighteen and lost her best friend in the entire world; her father. From the onset of the movie we understand that she is a curious girl. An Alice in the Wonderland of their archaic house and sprawling grounds. We sympathize but do not understand India because unraveling her is the film in itself. The catalyst for this lies in her mother and uncle. In both transitioning and characterisation, Park’s direction tampers with glimpses; shuffled scenes that elude a full picture. I found myself incessantly afraid of what they would do next. You won’t leave Stoker with all your questions answered.
STORY. This seems to be the symptom of many average horror or thriller films: the notion of a self-contained story. A family or character lives far away from mundane realities and crowds with little to no external interruptions. In some stories I would consider it unnecessary, unrealistic . In Stoker it helps enhance the fairy tale ambiance of India’s lifestyle which, like her, is disconnected and despondent. Plot and pace progress with elegance, intensely driven by desperate characters and an unspoken backstory. We are always kept wondering: what are they not telling us?
CONCLUSION. Stoker is a film that’s right up my alley, as someone who appreciates dark motifs and charismatically iniquitous personalities. If you feel similarly and if you’re braced for a modicum of discomforting themes then this is a story for you as well. It is beautiful and like all beautiful things, also a little dangerous.
CHARACTERS: 8/10 STORY: 7.5/10 REWATCH FACTOR: 8/10 OVERALL: 8/10