2013's Most Anticipated: Stoker

33. Stoker (R) - Runtime: 99 minutes
Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode
Director: Chan-wook Park
Writer: Wentworth Miller

I had fairly high expectations with this Hitchcock-inspired thriller. Chan-wook Park is best known for Oldboy, one of my favorite foreign movies. He's also completely in love with demented and twisted characters and here he's got an intriguing cast that manages to be a really good homage to Hitchcock's own Shadow of a Doubt. It may not offer too many thrills, but there's a disturbing layer underneath this drama.

India Stoker's dad has just died in a car accident and now she must face living with her detached and sometimes overbearing mother (Kidman). But along comes Charlie, India's uncle and charms the pants off (quite literally it seems in some cases!) everyone. And while Charlie maintains he's only there to help, he's more trouble for everyone than they know.

I don't want to spoil things too much - suffice to say things get weird (as they always do in Park's movies), but nothing ever seemed illogical. Just that all of the characters are living very twisted lives. There's a lot of hints and insinuations at what's boiling underneath and it all comes to a head when India has a chance encounter with an attractive young boy. In that moment and afterwards, we get a small glimpse at what's happening to India. Uncle Charlie seems to have been the spark to snap her out of her dull life.

I really enjoyed the characters in this film - Kidman does a good job at playing the widow who's basically moved on from her married life much earlier than when her husband died. And Wasikowska is brooding enough. But the man who steals every scene with his devilish grin is Matthew Goode. He's at times equally charming but completely intimidating. I really loved his performance. And when you find out what's really going on with this family, Wasikowska gives Goode a run for his money.

The movie is slow - there's not some thrilling chase scene or campy horror murders, just good old fashioned creepy camera work and a fantastic build up to the climax. And the film does look amazing - there's a lot of great shots and angles. There may be a bit too much with the visual metaphors but I enjoyed every bit of it.

If you're a fan of old school dramas and horror this is a great homage to Hitchcock. The film looks beautiful and the acting is amazing. There's a great reveal at the end and I couldn't help but smile when the credits started rolling.

Rating: Rent It!

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