Park Chan-wook makes his English language directorial debut with Stoker. It is not your typical genre flic. He manages to keep a steady rhythmic pace that will have the audience engrossed from start to finish. Stoker doesn’t have any time period or specific location. It feels like a folk tale that warns us of dangers out there.
Stoker plays out like an old-fashioned thriller than a horror flick. It captures nice landscapes that you could forget that the movie takes place in the family’s estate. The use of color indicates a supernatural element that often accompanies the fear of a sinister element. Add to that the pacing of the dialogue that is more of a prose than a realistic back-and-forth conversation. Those unfamiliar with international movies might not like it but every line uttered by the characters in Stoker is relevant to the story.
Director Park allows Stoker to go into dark places and at the same time maintains a high level of class that elevates even the most shocking moments in the movie. Park’s visuals create an atmosphere that inspires terror of the soul rather than the senses. It is magnified by the score made by Clint Mansell.
Stoker’s plot is simple and yet Park manages to make it unpredictable. This is a testament to the writing prowess of Wentworth Miller and his Black List script. The talents in front of the camera bring the Gothic thriller to life. Mia Wasikowska plays the young India Stoker. She is the movie’s anchor and the audience absorbs the story with her. Nicole Kidman plays her mother Evie.
Stoker is visually stunning and different from anything seen in recent time. It brings moral questions to play in the middle of all the suspense. Director Park challenges viewers spiritually and intellectually at the same time. This is a good Hollywood debut for the great Korean director.