Stoker, due for release in March, marks the English language debut of South Korea’s most esteemed director, Park Chan-Wook. While the film’s title obviously draws comparison to Bram Stoker’s Dracula, screenwriter Wentworth Miller (of Prison Break fame) confirms that the film has nothing to do with vampires, but is most definitely a horror film. The film’s plot is said to detail a strange relationship that develops between Mia Wasikowska’s India and Matthew Goode’s Uncle Charlie, an estranged relative who moves into India’s home in the wake of her father’s death and her mother’s increased mental instability. India’s unstable mother is played by Nicole Kidman, adding a final acting credit to Stoker that gives the film an incredibly promising cast list.
Goode’s previous performance in Watchmen has highlighted his ability to be at once enigmatic, charming and undeniably creepy; a set of traits he looks sure to be applying to the role of Uncle Charlie. As for Wasikowska, she could just stare at the camera for an hour and a half and the film would still be a terrifying hit; she has the kind of face that is both serenely beautiful and disconcertingly haunting at the same time. Kidman’s a hit and miss actress but when she chooses decent roles, such as The Others or Birth, she can lend a film lots in terms of tone through her detached, cruel performances.
While the cast is clearly strong, the real pull has to be in the form of the man sat down in the director’s seat. Park Chan-Wook’s back catalogue of films is honestly flawless. His Vengeance Trilogy (consisting of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, Oldboy and Lady Vengeance) are all superbly idiosyncratic thrillers, their extreme violence and innovative cinematic styles really caught the attention of an international audience, putting Chan-Wook firmly on the map. While not as popular as his previous films, Chan-Wook’s 2009 Thirst is in my opinion one of the greatest horror films of recent history. It combines a Shakespearean approach to narrative with his trademark extreme violence, all set against the backdrop of a priest’s faltering faith as he slowly becomes a vampire. The film both plays to genre expectations and irrevocably shifts them far away from what you’d expect from a vampire film, both classical and contemporary.
Stoker almost certainly won’t be a box office smash like Django: Unchained, Zero Dark Thirty or any of the other much anticipated 2013 films set to tear through the box office. However, what it will no doubt lack in financial profit will almost certainly be made up for in critical acclaim if the cast and director can live up to expectation. Check out the trailer below:
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