Review: STOKER

By Mark Saldana 

Rating: 3.5 (Out of 4 Stars)

Known for dark, intense and stylized psychological thrillers, Korean director Park Chan-Wook makes his first English-language film with a script by Wentworth Miller and Erin Cressida-Wilson.  The result is a slow burning, tense and suspenseful piece that suffers from a questionable head-scratcher of an ending. For some of my colleagues at the screening, this was a huge deal breaker, but as for me and my guest, we were pretty much sold on the rest of the film. The questions raised by the conclusion didn’t take away from what we perceived as a visually breathtaking film with an intriguing and enticing story.

India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) may have just turned 18, but the smart, introverted and brooding young lady has always been a bit of a late bloomer.  On the day of her birthday, she receives the devastating news that her father (Dermot Mulroney) was killed in a freak car accident.  Her Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), a world traveler whom she has never met, visits to pay his respects to his late brother and his brother’s family.  Hungry for attention, India’s mother Evelyn welcomes Charlie with open arms, but the distrusting India suspects there is much more to Charlie than meets the eye.

The pairing of Miller and Wilsons exceptional script with Chan-Wook’s expertise as a director makes for a lovely combination.  Chan-Wook’s direction, cinematography by Chung Chung-Hoon, the score by Clint Mansell, editing by Nicholas De Toth and acting by the leads all meld well together to enhance the decent story and script.  The cast all perform wonderfully with not a weak link in the entire roster.  Once again, I do agree with my colleagues that the ending does raise some questions, but doesn’t take too much away from the rest of the experience for me.

I will go on a limb and highly recommend this film, because while I don’t think it will have mass appeal, I’d hate for people to overlook it.  The film, because of it’s exceptional qualities is worth at least one viewing. If in doubt, don’t gamble on a full priced ticket. I believe most fans of Park Chan-Wook will enjoy the film, but there probably will be some who feel that this film is a tad watered down compared to some of his previous work. As someone who thought Chan-Wook’s Thirst was too much, I feel this movie is almost perfect.

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