Stoker (2013)

Stoker Movie Poster

Stoker: A creepy coming-of-age

Director: Chan-woon Park

Writer: Wentworth Miller

For those of you that don’t know, Stoker is a about young adult India (Mia Wasikowksa) whose father dies on her 18th birthday. His death introduces her mysterious Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) back into her and her self-absorbed mother’s (Nicole Kidman) lives.

To start, I love this movie; I think the vivid color schemes are captivating and the plot is eerie and the actors are amazing. Wasikowska is the perfect reserved teenager who only answers to herself. She’s quiet, but powerful and doesn’t cower or give up. She acts as the perfect foil to her mother, Kidman, who plays a troubled widow; Troubled in the sense that she has a tendency to drink a lot of wine to cope with her jealousy of the relationship between her late husband and daughter. (Which I think most mothers would be proud of? Or at least happy with? But apparently not when you’re kind of a dick.) Wasikowska and Kidman’s performances are so good that a glassy-eyed Goode almost goes ignored. The chemistry (and deliberate lack thereof in certain scenes) between the three actors is enough reason to love this movie.

Now let’s get into this.

Family ties, family lies

Stoker is about family ties. The movie opens with India’s voiceover telling us, “We are not responsible for what we come to be,” which upon first viewing I assumed was a young girl brushing off blame of responsibility for her own actions. However, after considering the title of the film is the last name every main character shares and that it focuses on their relationships, I think that quote has to do more with lineage. “We are not responsible for what we come to be” because just as we did not choose to be born, we do not choose what we become; those choices were already made for us. You know how people say “you can’t choose your family?” I think it’s kind of like that. India can’t choose her family and she also can’t choose the fact that murder turns her on. Funny how life turns out.

India can definitely afford some new shoes

Stoker Shoes
India (Mia Wasikowska) lies between 16 boxes of the same shoes she’s gotten every birthday. (Her 17th pair is on the floor beside her)

To drive the we are helpless point home, India gets the same pair of shoes for her entire life. Every birthday, she gets a brand new pair of the same fucking shoes she had last year. Another choice that was made FOR her. She doesn’t seem to have a problem with the whole here-are-the-same-shoes-you-wore-as-an-infant-but-bigger situation, but I think the shoe thing is significant since up until this movie, she was okay with her life being decided for her. Maybe it was because she thought it was at the hands of her father whom she loved and trusted. In fact, she was shocked to find out the person who was responsible for always gifting her those lil ole black and whites was actually her housekeeper Mrs. McGarrick (Phyllis Somerville).

I wonder if all this we don’t choose anything mess implies that everything that will happen is already determined and as much as we can’t control what or who we are, we can’t choose what we do or what happens to us.
Something to consider.

India’s not like those other girls, she’s a cool girl

So India can hear and see things other people can’t. As a film device, this makes for some really cool shots and sounds that would otherwise go unnoticed or even muted. Thanks to her unique skill, (Which I’m assuming she acquired through hunting with her father although it could simply be another of many character quirks.) we hear things like someone’s conversation from another room, small animal noises and some intense egg shells being cracked.

This trait of what should we call it? Intense observation? Passive but heightened awareness? Whatever the name, this trait must be the distinguishing factor between herself and others. She’s an extremely reserved teenager who possibly stays so quiet so she can hear and see everything. Maybe her displays of emotion are deliberately held within her so she can instead focus on her surroundings? (Like the predators she killed hunting, this town isn’t big enough for you all huh India?)

“Who are you?”

Evelyn asks this of both India and Charlie at certain points as if she doesn’t know. As if they aren’t related. As if they aren’t all the same.

That last sentence was just added for dramatic effect since it sounded cool, but hey they are all Stokers after all.

Honestly, I don’t think Evelyn even cares what or who India and Charlie are, she just cares about how she fits into it. She felt ostracized by her husband and India’s relationship and now her daughter has formed a special if not sinister connection with the man Evelyn really wants to bang too.  Will the injustice in Evelyn’s life never cease?! I mean this woman acknowledged Charlie’s involvement in Aunt Gwendolyn and Mrs. McGarrick’s deaths and when this murderer of human beings backs her into a corner, all she does is stare at his lips.

Stoker Lips
Charlie (Matthew Goode) corners Evelyn (Nicole Kidman) who instead of fighting or flighting, thirsts.

Come on Evelyn.

“Sometimes we have to do something bad to stop ourselves from doing something worse.”

Can this quote be applied to every action in this movie? Let’s see.

Was killing Charlie the bad act that stopped India from otherwise worse acts like say pursuing a life of crime with him?

Was stabbing bad haircut high schooler with a pencil the bad act that stopped India from otherwise worse acts like say killing him?

Was Evelyn telling India she can’t wait til life tears her apart the bad act that stopped her from otherwise worse acts like actually acknowledging her deep insecurities and working on herself?

That last one was a joke, but you get my point. Also if it’s not already clear, I really enjoy making fun of Evelyn.

Now it’s time for some…

Shots Shots Shots!

Screen Shot 2018-10-19 at 12.36.01 PM
Aunt Gwendolyn (Jacki Weaver) spends her night anxiously waiting while a nature documentary about predators’ cruelty creates the only noise in the room.
Screen Shot 2018-10-19 at 1.02.01 PM
Evelyn Stoker (Nicole Kidman) also anxiously waits for a not-so-surprise visitor as well in her scarlet bedroom.

What’s ironic about both these scenes is that they are both waiting for the same person. One woman sits absolutely still, as if any movement will somehow induce his arrival while the other is in constant motion; even her hair bounces. Obviously, the rooms themselves also differ greatly; one functional at best while the other looks like only part of a much larger and even more opulent bedroom.

Answer my Q’s!

    Why doesn’t Charlie eat? Is it an anxiety thing or is he really a creature of some kind? YOU ONLY HAVE THOSE TWO OPTIONS TO CHOOSE FROM FOR AN ANSWER SO YOU BETTER BACK BACK BACK IT UP.
    At one of the dinners Charlie prepared but didn’t eat, he says, “There’s nothing a man couldn’t master that a woman can’t make” then when India asks what he means, he doesn’t respond. Why didn’t he respond and what the hell does that mean??

Before we go…

  • The soundtrack of this movie was lovely, especially “Summer Wine” by Nancy Sinatra and Lee Hazlewood
  • I used to think Goode was attractive in this movie and that now disturbs me. So there’s that.
  • Beast (2018) reminded me of this movie, I also really liked that one.

Rating (out of 10): 8

Thanks for reading and please engage with this post, I’d love to hear and respond to your thoughts!

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