'Stoker': An unflinching, voyeuristic look at an American family - KCTV5

'Stoker': An unflinching, voyeuristic look at an American family

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The build and tension leading up to the end is by far the most rewarding thing about Stoker, the disturbing new suspense thriller from director Chan-wook Park.  This unflinching film takes a voyeuristic look at the Stoker family.

It takes place on daughter India's 18th birthday, when her father dies in a horrific accident.  India's left behind with an emotionally unstable mother.  But at her father's funeral, India's introduced to her charismatic uncle, her father's brother Charlie.  Charlie claims he's spent his life traveling the world, and announces he is staying to help support India and her mother.

India is far from normal. Through flashbacks we learn she shared much more in common with her father, often going with him on hunting trips. As Uncle Charlie continues to get closer to India's mother and India herself, it becomes quite obvious he holds the key to a major secret in the family.

The buildup of Stoker makes the film feel like a huge secret will be revealed by the end of the film, but the payoff doesn't exceed the fun of getting there. In fact, the ending delivered a bit of a letdown. While tense and uncomfortable throughout, the movie almost feels like it fizzles out once we learn more about Charlie.

Performance-wise, Mia Wasikowska was completely believable as India, showing what it's like being the weird girl in school.  She most definitely is the weird girl, and only grows more bizarre the closer she gets to her uncle.

Matthew Goode's performance as Charlie was charismatic and chilly at the same time.  Goode has a childlike stare and by the end of the film it becomes obvious as to why. 

Nicole Kidman also did a great job in another lesser known role.  She plays a mother still trying to figure out how to get past her loss.  At the same time, she struggles throughout the film to find some way to stay connected to her teenage daughter.

Overall, the film was largely successful at keeping the viewer on their toes.  Many critics will probably notice that the film seemed largely influenced by Alfred Hitchcock. It is a criticism that is definitely deserved.  At the same time, this shouldn't be considered a cut.  It utilized some of the best elements used by Hitchcock and didn't feel like it was copying anything in particular.

If you are looking for a movie that may make you seeking out a shower by the time you leave the theater, Stoker is definitely right up your alley.  However, if it's a feel good flick you're after, you may want to skip it.

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