{2jtab: Movie Review}

Stoker - Movie Review


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5 Stars

The atmospheric residue of Chan-wook Park’s Stoker is not easily scrubbed off.  Not that you’ll want to get clean so soon after its credits roll, though.  No, the normal reaction for the type of on-screen psychosis is to bask in its glow and thank your lucky stars that – no matter how messed up your life is at the moment – it will never be as murderously bizarre as the poor souls – played by Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, and Matthew Goode – that haunt the Gothic hallways of Stoker.

Allowing images and punctuated sound to sink much deeper than words ever could, the South Korean director of Old Boy mesmerizes his audience in this his English-language debut.  His instinctive talent lies in his ability to effectively haunt the viewer with poetic images that build upon a disturbing premise that gets wickedly more base and nonlinear as it grows all the more maddeningly intoxicating.  You simply cannot look away.  Edits become playgrounds where his visual style earns trophies.  Strands of hair become grassy fields.  Camera shots, loaded with clues, are perfect in their imperfections.  And everything is mastered by mood, mood, and even more concentrated mood.

Stoker never shies away from its topic of evil in the home and, as if Hitchcock himself sat at its helm and gave a “thumbs up” of approval after each take, Park buries the plot six feet under all the seemingly insignificant details – but do pay attention! - as he exposes the damaged human psyche of complicated family relations.  You will wait for something to happen and you will be shaken by it when it does occur.  It’s Shadow of a Doubt with a bit of a Dexter-like spin to it as one young girl, India Stoker (Wasikowska), meets her long absent Uncle Charlie (Goode) for the first time upon the sudden death of her father.  Introduced to him by her emotionally unstable mother (Kidman), the young girl suddenly discovers a new and severely twisted world that his arrival awakens both inside and outside of her as secrets are unveiled and people, as they always do, suddenly disappear from her life.

Structurally, nothing happens for much of Stoker; it’s all atmosphere and guided misdirection through really smart dialogue, a strong visual panache, and smoldering acting from its three leads.  The pages of its rich screenplay – written by Wentworth Miller – ignore most of the general rules about how to write one.  You won’t mind because Park’s camera is just waiting for you not to guess correctly about what’s going to happen.  But the dread mounts within you and, as visual clues are scattered throughout scenes, doom enters as severe danger signs are misinterpreted, misread, and confused with disarmingly Goode Sinatra-like looks and style by everyone else.

Aptly titled, Stoker’s characters are each other’s fireplace poker.  The actors, through the tension in the script, also feed off this instigating interpretation and bite into the deliciously (bordering on ridiculous) dialogue as if it were forbidden fruit – “The ground is soft.  Perfect for digging,” says Uncle Charlie at one part – as Park relishes in the off-kilter but perfectly stylized filming of the material.  And, no, its title is not a veiled reference to the creator of Dracula.  There are no damn vampires in this movie, so get that craziness out of your Hollywooden head.  Bloodletting?  Yes.  Bloodsucking?  No.

This is a refreshing work of horror that draws upon its Hitchcockian inspiration and then turns what went before completely on its head and takes audiences on a bizarre road trip toward a conclusion they never expected but adequately warned was coming.  Maybe Stoker’s the furthest thing from reality for its fairy tale-like setting.  Maybe it’s the nightmare of it all that makes it passionate piano playing work.  Whatever the reasons are for making it tick like it does, Stoker and all its sumptuous imagery won’t soon be forgotten.

Park’s film is a beautifully disturbed experience of family dysfunction.

{2jtab: Film Details}

Stoker - Movie ReviewMPAA Rating: R for disturbing violent and sexual content.
Runtime: 99 mins.
Director: Chan-wook Park
Writer: Wentworth Miller
Cast: Nicole Kidman; Mia Wasikowska; Matthew Goode; Phyllis Somerville; Harmony Korine
Genre: Mystery | Thriller
Innocence Ends.
Memorable Movie Quote: "I can't wait to see life tear you apart."
Fox Searchlight Pictures
Official Site: www.foxsearchlight.com/stoker
Release Date:
March 15, 2013
DVD/Blu-ray Release Date:
June 18, 2013.

Synopsis: After India's (Wasikowska's) father dies in an auto accident, her Uncle Charlie (Goode), who she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her emotionally unstable mother Evelyn (Kidman). Soon after his arrival, she comes to suspect this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives, but instead of feeling outrage or horror, this friendless girl becomes increasingly infatuated with him.

{2jtab: Blu-ray Review}

Stoker - Blu-ray Review

Component Grades

Blu-ray Disc
5 Stars

4 stars

Blu-ray Experience
4.5 stars


Blu-ray Details:

Available on Blu-ray - June 18, 2013
Screen Formats: 2.40:1
: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Bulgarian, Cantonese, Croatian, Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Malay, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), Polish, Romanian, Serbian, Slovenian, Thai, Turkish, Vietnamese
Audio: English: DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1; French: Dolby Digital 5.1; Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1; Portuguese: Dolby Digital 5.1; Czech: Dolby Digital 5.1; Hungarian: Dolby Digital 5.1; Polish: Dolby Digital 5.1; Thai: Dolby Digital 5.1; Turkish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Discs: 50GB Blu-ray Disc; Single disc (1 BD); UV digital copy; Digital copy

Rock solid technical presentation leaves nothing to complain about with Fox’s Stoker Blu-ray. Chung-hoon Chung’s cinematography (shot on 35mm film) looks terrific; sharp, detailed, and free of perceivable flaws. The 1080p transfer of this film, which depends on its visual artistry to succeed, is pretty gorgeous indeed. From beginning to end, you can see the filmic detail, the cinematic vision of every shot.  Colors are appropriate.  Contrast balance, black levels, skin tones – everything works brilliantly on this transfer.  The DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix is subtle, offering supportive, often freaky effects from the rear channels.



  • None

Special Features:

Stoker is a Fox Searchlight release. It comes in as a single-disc release, sporting a single Blu-ray disc. There is a code included for an UltraViolet Digital Copy of the movie. As for supplements, fans can revel in ten minutes of deleted scenes, a relatively interesting (though typically self-congratulatory) 27-minute “making of,” slide shows, and several short EPK featurettes. There’s also some footage from the film’s theatrical premiere.

  • Three Deleted Scenes (10 min)
  • Stoker: A Filmmaker's Journey (28 min)
  • Photo Gallery (11 min)
  • London Theater Design (3 min)
  • Theatrical Behind-the-Scenes (14 min)
  • Red Carpet Footage (16 min)
  • Becomes the Color Music Video (5 min)
  • Trailers (4 min)

{2jtab: Trailer}