Movies

Stoker

Stoker featured image

Stoker
Chan-wook Park, director
Wentworth Miller, script
Starring: Mia Wasikowska (India Stoker), Matthew Goode (Uncle Charlie Stoker), Nicole Kidman (Evelyn Stoker), Dermot Mulroney (Richard Stoker), Jacki Weaver (Aunt “Gin” Stoker), Alden Ehrenreich (Whip Taylor), Phyllis Somerville (Mrs. McGarrick)

 

The buzz
Wentworth Miller’s script made the 2010 Black List top 10 of the best-unproduced screenplays along with Chris Terrio’s Argo and J.C. Chandor’s Margin Call (which has since been made, starring Kevin Spacey). Optioned by Fox Seachlight, it attracted the attention of Korean director Chan-wook Park, whose “vengeance” thriller Oldboy has become a cult classic. Within months, Mia Wasikowska and Nicole Kidman had signed on to the project and the film was a go.

 

The genres
Psychological thriller; family melodrama with gothic overtones; homage to Hitchcock; supernatural (suggestions)

 

The premise
Preparations for Richard Stoker’s funeral are taking place as the film begins. Stoker’s death in a car crash has shocked his family and friends particularly because he was so far away from home on his beloved daughter India’s 18th birthday. At the funeral, a surprise visitor appears–Richard’s brother Charlie. Even India’s mother Evelyn had never heard about him but the Stoker family’s housekeeper Mrs. McGarrick remembers him—all too well. But before she can say anything to the Stoker women after their large and fashionable wake for Richard, she mysteriously disappears.

During the next few days, Uncle Charlie becomes part of the family, gradually charming India and more than charming Evelyn, who seems infatuated with him. Aunt “Gin” Stoker shows up for a visit and clearly wants to talk to Evelyn but before she can, she mysteriously disappears. India has problems with boys in school, who don’t like her “stuck-up” ways and when one of them tries to go too far, Uncle Charlie is on hand to more than defend India.

As the film reaches its denouement, the slowly building menace in the Stoker family dynamic begins to explode into violence. A conclusion is reached—but not necessarily the obvious one.

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