Stoker: Film Review

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Stoker is one of the better films you’ll see all year if no other reason than that it tries to do something genuinely different in the horror genre and ends up succeeding. Kind of. Mostly.

The story is about a young girl named India (Mia Wasikowska) whose father dies suddenly in a car accident. The girl’s mother, Evelyn (played by Nicole Kidman), is a testament to the icy cold maternal monster the stuff child abuse legends are made of. She isn’t violent, but abusive in the sense that she has almost no ability to ascertain her daughter’s needs. Mother’s needs come first and last; she is a maternal sociopath.

One day, India’s Uncle Charlie shows up. As her deceased father’s brother, you would suspect that he arrives to fill the role of father in her half orphaned life; actually, he comes to wreak havoc on her life in ways that are almost too creepy to name. She has never met him before, yet she has heard a few things about him. None of it, of course, is true. This becomes especially apparent when a sexual relationship erupts between Charlie and Evelyn.

The film is memorable for being a hybrid of horror-thriller-melodrama. It is an homage to Hitchcock in that it is obviously inspired by Norman Bates. Wasikowska and Kidman play their parts effortlessly (Kidman seems to be the go-to gal for icy mothers these days), but Matthew Goode carries the picture with his chilling portrayal of Uncle Charlie. An underutilized and under-recognized actor, this should boost his career prospects far beyond what they have been to date.