Written by Wentworth Miller
Directed by Park Chan-wook
Park Chan-wook’s Stoker is an amazing film that is only a few steps shy of perfection. But it is those final steps that make up the bulk of my complaints, forever sealing Stoker away from classics territory. The story of a teenage girl’s journey to womanhood just as a mysterious uncle enters her life plays on much of the angst we all experience as youth. It also plays on a lot of Hitchcock tropes, right up to having the mysterious uncle that the niece finds the murderous truth about be named Charlie. Holy Shadow of a Doubt, Batman!
My biggest beef seems like a slight thing, but Stoker involves what is essentially the sexual awakening of the India Stoker character, but both the writer and director are men. This isn’t a huge thing by itself, but it reveals itself in a million tiny tiny things that just add up to put Stoker a bit off from masterpiece status in my eyes. Mia Wasikowska obviously had some input on her character and how she acted, but everything is based on the templates laid down by Park and Miller. Perhaps I’ll soften a bit on this after a few years, Stoker being very worthy of revisits.
Park Chan-wook’s films have gained him a cult following throughout the world: Joint Security Area, Thirst, I’m a Cyborg, But That’s OK, and The Vengeance Trilogy. Stoker is his English-language film debut, one of three cult Korean directors who had English language films debuts in 2013 – Kim Jee-won with The Last Stand and Bong Joon-ho with Snowpiercer are the others. Park Chan-wook took the great tradition of Korean film transitions with him. The scene where the hair turns into the field of grass is one of the best shots ever in film. Park succeeds in providing excellent tension building thanks to some masterful editing, and continues to ratchet up the drama as the story gets more disturbing. Screenwriter Wentworth Miller was largely known for acting until this point, starring in the Prison Break series on Fox. His script for Stoker wound up on the Black List, which lead to its eventual development. It all results in a terrific thriller.
The narration by India Stoker is done as a whisper, giving a more intimate feel, and the aura of us hearing a family secret. Secrets weave the web of the world of Stoker, the Stoker family having their own skeletons in the closet