31 Days of Halloween: Day 12 – Stoker

A movie review article by: Paul Brian McCoy

This Schlocktober, Comics Bulletin will be exploring the world of horror cinema, featuring thirty one films released between Halloween 2012 and Halloween 2013. Next up is director Chan-wook Park's Stoker.

It's rare to find a genre film that is so beautifully designed, directed, and performed, that before the opening credits are even over you can tell that it's going to be something special. Hell, it's rare to find any film fitting that criteria.

Stoker is that film.

Korean director Chan-wook Park's American debut is a transgressive suspense-filled masterpiece. A tribute to Alfred Hitchcock, featuring a wonderfully disturbing performance by Nicole Kidman and a star-making turn by Mia Wasikowska as India Stoker.

Seriously. If you've ever had a crush on the weird girl, been the weird girl, or both, you won't be able to take your eyes off of Wasikowska.

The story is deceptively simple and unfolds slowly, revealing layer after layer of psychological tensions, repressed sexualities, and good old-fashioned murderous psychoses. This is one of the only times Park didn't actually write his own script. Instead, the writer is Wentworth Miller – the star of the television show Prison Break – and for a first script, it is simply amazing. There's a reason it was voted to the 2010 "Black List" - the top 10 best unproduced screenplays for that year. Hopefully he'll have more work produced soon.

What? You want to know what it's actually about?

Sheesh.

On her 18th birthday, India Stoker's father, Richard (Dermot Mulroney) died in a car accident. Richard was extremely close to his daughter, but India was not close at all to her mother, Evelyn. At the funeral, a mysterious man arrives: India's uncle Charles (Matthew Goode), Richard's brother. Both India and Evelyn find themselves drawn to Uncle Charlie despite any number of weird psychosexual reasons why they should run away instead.

And then the murders start.

But honestly, as far as I'm concerned, it wouldn't matter if the movie was just the characters strolling around the house chatting with each other. The attention to every technical film making detail is so precise that it's almost infuriatingly good. Every shot is a clinic in how to frame a shot, how to set the lighting, how to record the sound, how make a freaking beautiful film.

Miller's script fearlessly goes places that will surely alienate most mainstream audiences, and Park is the perfect director for the material.

Read our previous review of Stoker here.


Paul Brian McCoy is the writer of Mondo Marvel and a regular contributor/editor for Comics Bulletin. His first novel, The Unraveling: Damaged Inc. Book One is available at Amazon US & UK, along with his collection of short stories, Coffee, Sex, & Creation (US & UK). He recently contributed the 1989 chapter to The American Comic Book Chronicles: The 1980s (US & UK) and has kicked off Comics Bulletin Books with Mondo Marvel Volumes One (US & UK) and Two (US & UK). Paul is unnaturally preoccupied with zombie films, Asian cult cinema, and sci-fi television. He can also be found babbling on Twitter at @PBMcCoy.

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