Review: “Stoker” starts off good, then what the ???

March 21st, 2013 at 10:59 pm by under Entertainment

I thought initially that I understood what the filmmaker was going for in “Stoker”.

But then things changed and ultimately, I think that they were trying too hard to be different from other thrillers… that it ends up standing out for all the wrong reasons.

WARNING TO PARENTS: This movie is very “R” for what the MPAA calls “disturbing violent and sexual content”.

"Stoker" poster courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures

“Stoker” poster courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures

(My spoiler-free review)

In the beginning, “Stoker” has a Gothic Hitchockian feel… with odd characters, an ominous tone, and it only hints at what may be to come for both us the audience, and the main characters… it slowly builds suspense, includes some innuendos, and throws in some red herrings to keep you guessing… and then… things get weird.   But not the weird you might be expecting or hoping for… its the kind of change that just takes the movie completely off the rails.  Mr. Hitchcock himself would not approve.

“Stoker” is more style than substance.

It has captivating imagery, a unique style, strong production values, dark themes, and mysterious characters.   But it is brutal and disturbing, very much a movie for adults, and the story starts to unravel in ways where the thriller aspect is gone and instead is a glaring question of “what the heck is going on now”.  Its almost as if the first half of this movie had one director and writer, and the second half was a different team just trying to wrap up the story in as many crazy ways as possible… and with multiple flashbacks.  This movie begged to be cut down and retooled… it was on the verge of becoming a new classic, before it  just became a piece of garbage.

I may have even said out loud in the screening: “is this where we’re going with this?”  Everything I thought might happen was wrong… and there were many different ways I thought this movie would go.  This wrong… was not like a good mystery or suspense where a twist surprises you…  this wrong was a bad story that you know the ending and it has many disgusting and perverse layers with fancy camera moves and editing techniques to cover up the shortcomings of the script.

The acting isn’t bad, considering the material….  Mia Wasikowska is intriguing as the main character (India Stoker) who has just lost her father to a tragic accident and her mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman) is suspicious in her grief.   Her uncle Matthew Goode is good, but a little over zealous as the creepy relative.

THE BOTTOM LINE:

Because of the style of the thriller in the first half … I give it 5.0 out of 10 … which is propping up what turns out to be a very predictable, over zealous attempt, and often disturbing attempt at something new.

MORE INFO (possible spoilers):

"Stoker" photo courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures

“Stoker” photo courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures

“Stoker”

(2013) (rated: R for disturbing violent and sexual content)
(1 hr, 39 min)

Starring: Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode, Phyllis Somerville, Jacki Weaver, Dermot Mulroney

Director: Chan-wook Park ["Oldboy" (2003)]

Genre: Drama/ Mystery/ Thriller

The Plot: After India’s father dies, her Uncle Charlie, who she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her unstable mother. She comes to suspect this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives and becomes increasingly infatuated with him.

So what did you think?  Please post a comment!

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“Stoker” poster and photo courtesy Fox Searchlight Pictures

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