Shocking Saturday: Stoker

Shocking Saturday this week is more of a thriller, however it is a visually beautiful film which takes you on a journey into the dark past of a broken family; and is from the mind of Chan-Wook Park, the director of ‘Oldboy’.


Anyone thinking that this might be an account of the life of Bram Stoker will be saddened to hear that it is not; the title derives from the main family’s surname.

When the film started it seemed as though it might have been hard to get to grips with; due to the numerous scenes in the first 5-10 minutes where not much really happened. However the imaginatively scripted font-style used on the credits and the narration by the main character keeps you gripped and anxious to uncover what has happened to this family.

A mother – Evelyn Stoker – (Nicole Kidman) has been left broken after the death of her husband, Richard Stoker (Dermot Mulroney); and her already distant daughter India (Mia Wasikowska) pushes herself further away. This is partly due to the fact that she does not like to be touched, and that she was much closer with her father than her mother. After the funeral India discovers that she has an uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), who she has never heard of; on meeting him she can sense a feeling of unease. The feeling worsens when her mother invites Charlie to stay with them for a while, and while doing so he tries to get close to Evelyn and India; in some instances too close. Although this is the first time she has ever heard from her uncle, and the very sight of him gives her the shivers as the story unravels itself, it appears that India is much closer to Charlie than she thought.

Stoker is one of those films which – although they have a great plot – pull you in with the picture quality and visual effects. The story shows that India notices things that other people do not, and the film is the same; it focuses on the smaller details. Just as India would see people’s small characteristics the film details on such things as grass blowing in the wind, the brushing of someone’s hair and the spurting of blood from a severed artery.

The film is really stolen by the portrayal of the suave yet scary uncle Charlie, by the talented Matthew Goode; who is no stranger to playing the antagonist as we saw with him playing the super-villain Ozymandias in the 2009 film Watchmen. However not far behind is Mia Wasikowska’s India Stoker, who convinces the audience of her hatred for being touched by anyone, with her constant stern, emotionless facial expressions. Both Goode and Wasikowska’s acting plays off one another in order to get the emotions of the characters over to the viewer. The calmly creepy Charlie plays with India’s mind, and forces her to be seduced by his charms in ways he knows only she can understand.

Like I said before the first couple of scenes don’t appear to have much going on in them, but later on there are some excellent scenes. One of which is when India is playing a song on the piano, and Charlie appears and begins to join in. The scene is so enjoyable because the separate tunes which the characters are playing mimic their demeanour; whereas India plays high but slow-paced notes, Charlie plays dark low notes. As the scene concludes, the tension in the air erupts to a high which in some way simulates their sexual feelings towards one another.

Even with the slightly slow start, this film was very enjoyable and I would urge any horror/thriller fan to watch it.

Tag Line: Do Not Disturb This Family

Horror Rating: (:-O) (:-O)

Star Rating: