Stoker (2013) Review

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Stoker

Directed by Park Chan-wook

Produced by:
Ridley Scott
Tony Scott
Michael Costigan

Written by Wentworth Miller

Starring:
Mia Wasikowska
Matthew Goode
Nicole Kidman
Dermot Mulroney
Jacki Weaver

Music by Clint Mansell

Running time: 99 minutes

Plot Synopsis:

India Stoker’s beloved father dies in a car accident on her 18th birthday. Soon after, the mysterious Uncle Charlie comes to stay with India and her cold & distant mother. India never even knew her father had a brother and she starts to suspect that Uncle Charlie may not be all he seems.

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My Opinion:

First of all, thanks to everyone for voting when I asked which film I should review next. Stoker was the winner.

I think it’s pretty well known that the inspiration for Stoker was Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow Of A Doubt. Being a pretty big Hitchcock fan and having just watched that one this year (review HERE), I can certainly see how similar the films are and how much Wentworth Miller clearly must love Shadow Of A Doubt. As to be expected, though, it’s not as good as Hitchcock’s film.

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I missed Stoker when it was in cinemas and I was so mad because it looked interesting & I really wanted to see it. But as it wasn’t Fast & Furious 23 or some shit like that, it was only on for one week at my local cinema. So, anyway, after fellow movie geeks seemed to love it despite some not so great reviews I think I had probably hyped it up too much in my mind & that may be why I was a little disappointed with the film.

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I’ve never seen Park Chan-wook’s Oldboy and had wanted to do this review along with that one but just haven’t had time to watch it. I’m assuming it’s a better film with all the best bits of Stoker, like some great visuals and all that director-y stuff that I know nothing about, but with a better story. Stoker looked great & it had this wonderful creepy atmosphere that I really liked. But the overall story wasn’t all that shocking or original and, with a different director, I think it would be a very forgettable film.

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I also think everyone did fine in their roles but no one really blew me away.
Mia Wasikowska was fine but I think plenty of other actresses could have played the role too. Matthew Goode has this insane look going on in his eyes so I think he was right for the role but, again, I think there are others who could have played Uncle Charlie and I can’t help but say that Joseph Cotten was a creepier Uncle Charlie in Shadow Of A Doubt. At least the character of India in Stoker has much more depth than Hitchcock’s Charlie, niece of the uncle with the same name. Nicole Kidman is also fine but she always is – I didn’t really feel like we were seeing anything new from her here.

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Overall I just found the story too predictable. It was too much “style over substance” for me. I don’t think it was bad but, if you’re going to make a film so clearly inspired by Hitchcock, I think you need to do a better job on the suspense in the film. You’re not going to top the Master in that regard but there are other films that have achieved a growing sense of anxiousness more than Stoker does, which never exactly had me on the edge of my seat.

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Summary:

Stoker is a very atmospheric film that is lovely to look at and one I’m sure that people who know anything about filmmaking would probably appreciate. In the hands of a less talented director (and without a certain shower scene), I think it would be a very forgettable film. It’s a good Hitchcock-inspired mystery but just can’t match his brilliantly suspenseful storytelling. But who can? Although it sounds like I almost hated Stoker, I did actually enjoy it. It’s a solid effort & I appreciate the attempt to make something other than the same old tired mainstream movie in this world full of horrible sequels, remakes, and “Ow, my balls!” comedies. Stoker is worth a watch for film fans but I would hope that everyone will have already seen Hitchcock’s biggest classics first to see the true master of suspense at work.

My Rating: 6.5/10

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And I’m on a Movie Haiku kick again so here’s one for Stoker. Warning if you’ve not seen it – SLIGHT SPOILER:

Strange Uncle Charlie
Masturbating in shower
Hitchcock this is not

Which leads me to two of my lists on which Stoker probably now at least deserves an honorable mention. 😉

My Top Ten Shower & Bath Scenes In Movies

My Top Five Movie Scenes Of Self-Pleasure

Mondo Celebrates Alfred Hitchcock’s Birthday With Posters For Psycho and Vertigo

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Happy Birthday to Alfred Hitchcock – A true genius. Check out the following link for new posters from artists Tomer Hanuka & Ghoulish Gary Pullin for Mondo to celebrate Hitchcock’s birthday: SlashFilm

I love Hitchcock’s films. I’d seen all the biggest ones years ago but watched & reviewed a few I hadn’t yet seen when I started my IMDB Top 250 Challenge this year:

Notorious Review

Rope Review

Shadow Of A Doubt Review

This year’s Stoker has often been compared to Shadow Of A Doubt but really doesn’t come close to Hitchcock’s classic. Nothing does… I absolutely loved the TV episodes of Alfred Hitchcock Presents & The Alfred Hitchcock Hour as a kid as well.

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Happy Birthday, Mr Hitchcock – Thanks for all the great films. 🙂

Sir Alfred Joseph Hitchcock (13 August 1899 – 29 April 1980)

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IMDB Top 250 Challenge – Movie #3 – Shadow Of A Doubt

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Shadow Of A Doubt (1943) – IMDB Rank #243

Watched 5/1/13

The day after watching Rope I decided to watch the one other Alfred Hitchcock movie in the IMDB top 250 that I hadn’t yet seen and had on DVD (I now have only Notorious left to watch somehow!).

The story is about a young woman whose uncle comes to visit but she soon discovers he may not be the nice Uncle Charlie she remembers anymore.

Of the two, I preferred Rope. Shadow Of A Doubt was only five years before Rope but feels so much older than Rope – I think it hasn’t aged quite as well. But I also really like Jimmy Stewart so that probably helped me like Rope more!

Teresa Wright is the young woman and Joseph Cotten is uncle Charlie. Both give good performances and Joseph Cotten is very menacing and creepy. And I got excited when Henry Travers was in it and started talking and I was like “Hey, that’s Clarence from It’s A Wonderful Life!”. Because I love Clarence. And I admit that I don’t know many actors in old movies as I haven’t watched enough movies that are sort of pre-1970. 😉 I plan on watching more old movies this year, though, as all of the sequels & remakes are really getting on my nerves these days!

As with Rope, Shadow Of A Doubt isn’t up there with the likes of Rear Window, Psycho, etc, but it was still a good watch. That’s always a guarantee with anything from Hitchcock. 🙂

My Rating: 7/10

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