"Glorification of Sadism"
It isn’t often the horror genre delivers with grandiose cinematography. It’s a marriage for which Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook is known. Park manages to turn splatter blood into art on screen, giving garbage content the illusion of grace and beauty. In his American movie debut, the Korean filmmaker delivers excellently what he does best. STOKER is a slasher film on a silver platter.
A shadow has fallen over young India Stoker’s 18th birthday. Her father has died in a horrific car accident, leaving the girl (Mia Wasikowska) and her mother (Nicole Kidman) alone in their sprawling and isolated home. At her father’s funeral, India meets her Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), a mysterious young man she has never heard of in her life. He’s been traveling in Europe for the past 20 years and has returned upon the news of his brother’s death.
Things take a turn for the worse when India’s aunt stops by for a visit, seemingly shocked to see Charlie living in the house. A hasty goodbye, a worried look and she’s never heard from again.
There’s something special about India. She hears things that others do not hear and sees things others do not see. Her father was the only one who understood her, and she’s taken his death especially hard. Uncle Charlie seeks to fill this void in an intimate way neither India nor her mother would have ever expected.
STOKER is the story of a young girl’s coming of age, her mind influenced with perverted sadism and eroticism. Under her uncle’s influence, she blossoms from a peculiar girl in saddle shoes into a deadly, sadistic young woman, probably the woman her father would never have allowed her to become.
STOKER is truly beautifully shot, with stunning scenery and impeccable production values. It’s almost a shame it should not be seen. There are ethical problems throughout the movie, the greatest of which is an outright disregard for the value of human life. STOKER’s glorification of immorality and the sexualized nature of its sadistic acts call into question the filmmaker’s true motives.
Amidst recent events, the media is discussing the role mental illness plays in the mass killings. One would expect an aversion to releasing such a movie like STOKER at a time like this, yet here it is – glorifying violence, incest and perversion with reckless abandon. While there is more to STOKER than just sex and violence, its visual beauty and artistry is its only redeeming value.
STOKER has a strong humanist worldview that encourages its female protagonist to embrace, rather than resist, her dark thoughts and dark demons. STOKER doesn’t tell a story of triumph or one of overcoming the odds, but one of concession. Its story has no redemption.
Media-wise viewers will want to avoid STOKER. The amount of blood and guts is nothing really new, and the sexuality isn’t as graphic as it could be, but the glorification of such acts is shocking and not to be taken lightly.
(HHH, L, VVV, SS, NN, A, MMM) Very strong humanist worldview, showing you should embrace your weaknesses and destroy those who disagree; five obscenities and profanities; very strong violence throughout, with several murders occurring and a sexual high following the bloody murderous acts; strong sexual content includes an 18-year-old girl is shown pleasuring herself in the shower, an incestuous relationship occurs between two characters, an attempted rape scene occurs; upper female nudity when a girl is depicted nude in the shower and pleasures herself; some light wine drinking throughout; no smoking or drugs; and, disregard for human life, incest, lying, and glorification of murder.
STOKER is a dark thriller. India Stoker’s father has died suddenly in a horrific car accident on her 18th birthday. His death leaves India and her mother all alone in a sprawling, isolated home. At her father’s funeral, India meets her Uncle Charlie, a mysterious young man she never knew existed. Charlie’s been traveling in Europe for the past 20 years and has returned home on hearing the news of his brother’s death. Things take a turn for the worse when India’s aunt stops by for a visit. She’s shocked to see Charlie living in the house with India and her mother. Hours later, she’s never heard from again. Under her uncle’s dark influence, India blossoms from a peculiar girl in saddle shoes into a sadistic, deadly young woman.
STOKER is beautifully shot, with stunning visuals and impeccable production values. However, its humanist worldview shows an outright disregard for the value of human life. The female protagonist is encouraged to embrace, rather than resist, her dark thoughts and personal demons. STOKER’s glorification of psychopathic, sadistic behavior is abhorrent and despicable.