Park Chan-wook is one of the most popular directors’s in his native Korea and a cult figure here in America largely due to 2004’s Oldboy, fans have been anxiously awaiting his English-language debut. Though it took longer than some would have liked, Stoker was likely the perfect choice. While the violence is toned down, relative to what we usually see from Park, all the perversity and exquisite framing he’s known for, it’s present and accounted for.
After her father (Dermot Mulroney) is killed in a horrible car accident on her 18th birthday, India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) is crushed. Already a quiet young lady, India becomes even more guarded. Her curiosity is piqued when her Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), whom she never knew existed, arrives at the funeral and announces that he will be moving in with India and her unstable mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman) in their Gothic-styled mansion. Mystified as to why no one ever mentioned Charlie to her, India begins to wonder if he is up to no good, when he attempts to seduce Evelyn just days after her husband’s death. However, when people around town start mysteriously disappearing, Charlie’s attention turns to India, and his motives are exposed.
Written by Wentworth Miller (the former star of Fox’s Prison Break) Stoker is both mysterious and erotic in an uncomfortable way. I mean, Charlie makes it clear that he wishes to replace India’s father, and become her first love…truly icky. However, as the depth of Charlie’s depravity comes into focus, India begins to exhibit signs that she may share some of her Uncle sociopathic tendencies. While Miller’s script presents some interesting concepts, the plot is a tad thin, leaving too much to the imagination and failing to fully develop the characters.
As anyone familiar with his work might expect, Park composes his shots with care and invention, making Stoker very interesting to look at. Park provides a visual smorgasbord of chilling images, of violence and some wild fetishes reminiscent of a Hitchcock film. Some are symbolically useful, such as the intense piano duet between India and Charlie. Other scenes may not be particularly important to moving the plot forward, but it’s hard to argue that they don’t look fabulous.
Stoker isn’t a perfect film, but its well worth checking out.
Presented in its original aspect ratio of 2.40:1, this 1080p transfer offers up an impressive image. Bright colors are vibrant, and provide a nice contrast to the more dreary colors when necessary. Detail and texture is sharp throughout. This is a very good looking film.
The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track is solid. The surrounds offer up an immersive feel throughout, and music cues sound dynamic. Dialogue is clean and clear, emanating from the center channel.
English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese, Arabic, Bulgarian, Cantonese, Croatian, Czech, Greek, Hebrew, Hungarian, Icelandic, Indonesian, Malay, Mandarin (Simplified), Mandarin (Traditional), Polish, Romanian, Serbian, Slovenian, Thai, Turkish, and Vietnamese subtitles are available.
The following special features are included:
- Deleted Scenes (HD, 10:01) Three deleted/extended scenes.
- Stoker: A Filmmaker’s Journey (HD, 27:50) An excellent making-of documentary that examines the film’s visual approach, the development of the screenplay, the set dressing, and the challenges of working with a director who speaks very little English. Features interviews with cast and crew, including Park Chan-wook, who is subtitled here.
- Photography by Mary Ellen Mark (HD, 11:15) An extensive series of on-set photographs that can be auto-played or manually advanced.
- London Theater Design (HD, 2:35) Stills from Stoker‘s premiere in London.
- Theatrical Behind-the-Scenes: Aside from the poster and music featurettes—which are new material—most of the pieces are short, trimmed-down promos made up of the same interviews from the longer making-of documentary on the disc: The Making of the Limited Edition Poster (HD, 2:55), Mysterious Characters (HD, 3:33), Director’s Vision (HD, 3:28), Designing the Look (HD, 3:02), Creating the Music (HD, 2:39)
- Red Carpet Footage (HD, 15:38)
- “Becomes the Color” Performance by Emily Wells (HD, 4:46)
- Theatrical Trailer and TV Spots (HD, 3:48)
- Ultra Violet Digital Copy