Stoker (2013): South Korean filmmaker Chan-wook Park's impressive English-language debut

Park's homage to the Master of Suspense, Alfred Hitchcock

A Potpourri of Vestiges Review

Featured in IMDb Critic Reviews 

Stoker, poster, Directed by Chan-wook Park, starring Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, and Nicole Kidman
Stoker (2013) By Chan-wook Park
Our Rating: 8.0
IMDb Ratings: 7.0
GenreDrama | Mystery | Thriller
CastMia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode
Country: UK | USA
Runtime: 99 min
Color: Color

Summary: After India's father dies, her Uncle Charlie, who she never knew existed, comes to live with her and her unstable mother. She comes to suspect this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives and becomes increasingly infatuated with him.
Stoker is a 2013 psychological thriller film directed by South Korean filmmaker Chan-wook Park. Park's English-language debut, Stoker also marks the screenwriting debut of Wentworth Miller, who is most famous for playing the role of Michael Scofield in the Fox Network television series Prison Break. Stoker stars Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, and Nicole Kidman in major roles. The movie also features a cameo from two-time Oscar-nominated veteran Aussie actress Jacki Weaver. Stoker is also the last film produced by the late British filmmaker Tony Scott.

Mia Wasikowska as India Stoker in Chan-wook Park's Stoker, lying on bed, surrounded by boxes of shoes, birthday presents
Mia Wasikowska in  Chan-wook Park's Stoker
South Korean filmmaker Chan-wook Park needs no introduction. Having started his career a couple of decades back with a little known film called Moon Is the Sun's Dream (1992), Park has come a long way in his pursuit of filmmaking excellence. With his sanguinary "Vengeance Trilogy," comprising Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance (2002), Oldboy (2003) and Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005), Park not only became a household name in Korea but also managed to carve a niche for himself in the international film circles. And finally, after a very long wait, Park brings to his fans his first ever English-language film, Stoker.

Matthew Goode as Charles Stoker in Stoker (2013), Directed by Chan-wook Park
Matthew Goode in Chan-wook Park's Stoker
Stoker is a dark, deeply disturbing character study with a psychological bent about an introspective young girl, named India Stoker, who witnesses the loss of innocence following the sudden and untimely demise of her beloved father. In Stoker, Park's fixation for the bizarre and the morbid is once again on full display. But, he is clearly a bit more cautious than usual. He seems to keep his characters on a tight leash for a much longer duration, and this makes the movie's first half appear much slower and less hyper than a typical Park film. But, once the dust settles down, the viewer is treated to sheer mastery of Park's craft.

Nicole Kidman as Evelyn Stoker in Stoker (2013), Directed by Chan-wook Park
Nicole Kidman in Chan-wook Park's Stoker
Stoker can be best approached as an experimental film with surrealistic overtones. The movie can also be looked upon as Park's homage to the master of suspense, Alfred Hitchcock. Those who have seen Hitchcock's 1943 thriller Shadow of a Doubt wouldn't find it hard to draw parallels between the two films. Interestingly, it was Hitchcock's 1958 masterpiece Vertigo that had inspired young Park to become a filmmaker. In Stoker, Park limns a colorful canvas like only he can and his characters tread it like spirits caught in a limbo. While the characters are highly emotional, their strangely selfish actions make it difficult for the viewers to sympathize with them.

Mia Wasikowska as India, Matthew Goode as Charles, Charles stalk India, yellow umbrella, in Stoker (2013), Directed by Chan-wook Park
A Still from Chan-wook Park's Stoker
Stoker works well on both the technical as well as emotional fronts. Park's longtime collaborator Chung-hoon Chung's alluring cinematography gives the movie a hypnotic feel. Clint Mansell's poignant music further adds to the movie's overall eerie tone. And it's Nicolas De Toth's topnotch editing that forms the movie's backbone.The acting of movie's three lead characters viz. Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman, and Matthew Goode is quite brilliant, and in that very order. Park deserves all the credit for striking a much needed balance between movie's different elements.  

Nicole Kidman as Evelyn and Mathew Goode as Charles, get cozy, romantic scene, in Stoker (2013), Directed by Chan-wook Park
A Still from Chan-wook Park's Stoker
Overall, Stoker is an intriguing piece of cinema, but it somewhat falls short of the brilliance of Park's best work. Despite managing to stoke a strong fire of curiosity, Stoker strangely leaves a keen-eyed, intelligent viewer high and dry. Those accustomed to watching the quintessential Hollywood product may find Stoker both bizarre and disturbing. But, those on the lookout for a breath of fresh air would be thoroughly rewarded. Highly recommended to Park fans and also those who appreciate experimental cinema! 

Readers, please feel free to share your opinion by leaving your comments. As always your feedback is highly appreciated!  


People who liked this also liked...
Share on Google Plus


  1. So weird, yet so different that I have to give it some credit. Good review.

  2. Glad you liked it... the movie can best be described as an experimental film!!!

  3. Good review!

    Song from these movie by Emily Wells is good one too.


Thanks for sharing for valuable opinion. We would be delighted to have you back.