Stoker is a suspenseful thriller from the director of Old Boy, another violent, but artistic foreign film.
India (Mia Wasikowska's) is an independent and sulky teenager, who doesn’t like to be touched, yet is waiting for someone to really notice her, since she seems to notice everything. After India's father dies in an auto accident, her Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), who she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her emotionally unstable and alcoholic mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman). Soon after his arrival, she comes to suspect this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives, but instead of feeling outrage or horror, this friendless girl becomes increasingly infatuated with him—and that’s not even the creepy part.
Stoker starts off slow and quiet like a novel, but builds and changes directions. At first, the narrative feels like a Tennessee Williams play, with a bored and confused teenager stuck at home, not relating to her beautiful, but withdrawn mother. There’s a similar quiet tension too. However, the film soon takes a darker and disturbing turn.
The vintage coloring, the clothing worn by the main cast and the old-fashioned estate with servants, caused me to wrongly assume that the film was set in the early 1960s. Yet, a quarter of the way in to the narrative, the film expands beyond India’s home and you realize that it’s modern day, which is quite jarring. I can’t go into too many of the other plot twists without ruining the storyline, but be prepared for some family “skeletons” in the closet and tactful violence, if there is such a thing. I had to glance away a few times, but I’m a wimp. However, hours after I left the dark theater, I was still thinking and analyzing this provocative story.
Goode’s robotic performance combined with his baby boy looks, reminded me of the bad terminator in Terminator 2. He does a good job putting the viewer on edge, just by smiling. Definitely, a long way from his role in Leap Year. Meanwhile, Wasikowska’s distant and dark portrayal reminded me of Wednesday Adams and not too different from her roles in Alice in Wonderland and The Kids are Alright, just with darker hair. Don’t get me wrong, she does a good job, it was just expected though.