Movie Review: Stoker

Stoker

Shades of Hitchcock, but this horror thriller lacks a protagonist worthy of its audience.  Instead, “Stoker” is just a frustrating homage to the master of suspense.  “Shadow of a Doubt” is one of Hitchcock’s finest character studies.  Good old Uncle Charlie comes to visit his teenaged niece who is, at first, fascinated but then suspicious of her uncle’s activities.  Could he be a MURDERER?  Hmmm!

“Stoker” is not a remake, of course, but the classic film is clearly the inspiration.  The beloved father of 18-year-old India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) dies on her birthday.  And, showing up at the funeral is an uncle she’s never seen before, Charlie Stoker (Matthew Goode).  India is not pleased and doesn’t warm up to her new relation right away.  Instead, Charlie is clearly making time with India’s estranged mother (Nicole Kidman).  That gets India even more annoyed.

Then, folks start to disappear.  Could Charlie be a stone cold killer?  Is anyone in the Stoker household in their right mind?  I don’t think it will come as any surprise that mental illness prevails here.

My idea of a classic protagonist is not present in this film.  The characters are interesting to watch but if we don’t have a character to share a point of view with, then aren’t we annoyed to the point that we give up on staying with the story?  I certainly reached that point long before the movie was over.

On the positive side, the acting, the cinematography and the atmospherics are all above average.

Ultimately, however, the characters are unlikable.  The audience needs more than imagery alone.  Grade: C

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