STOKER ***** USA / UK 2012 99 mins
About to turn 18, outcast / sullen India (Mia Wasikowska, looking like an unused Tim Burton character) grieves over her dead father, is bemused by the bizarre behaviour of her mom (Nicole Kidman) and faces a universal shake-up when her handsome Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) turns up, bringing with him dark secrets galore. Director Chan-wook Park (OLDBOY / THIRST) makes his American movie debut with an inspired extended Hitchcock homage incorporating a character derived from SHADOW OF A DOUBT, an assault on a vulnerable woman in a confined space (a phone box replacing the shower) and even some blackly comic corpse-in-the-freezer shenanigans. Characteristic for Park, it is visually extraordinary, with remarkable use of the camera – characters frequently framed in doorways and windows to reflect their entrapment – cannily filmed scenes of violence, inventive transitions and the sense that every shot and camera movement has its own specific purpose. Clint Mansell’s beautifully , yet menacingly, elegant score fits the movie like a glove. Unusually bold for a relatively mainstream picture, this sour and beguiling story of incest, serial murder, child death and mental illness was one of the most underrated films of 2013.
Review by Steven West