The screenplay for Stoker ended up on the 2010 “Black List”, an annual aggregated detailing of the best unproduced scripts making their way around Hollywood. Luckily for us the film ended up being produced, and has in turn become the disturbing, messed up family drama Miller is sure to have originally hoped it would be.
Stoker stars Mia Wasikowska as India Stoker, a strangely quiet girl by nature who’s mourning the death of her father, Richard (Dermot Mulroney). Often pushed aside by peers and neglected by her own mother, Evelyn (a perfectly cast Nicole Kidman), the wealthy family and their estate gets a shake up when brother to the recently deceased, Charlie (Matthew Goode) shows up. A man India didn't even know existed. In between Evelyn’s obvious attraction to Charlie and India's descent into isolation , Charlie becomes the epicentre of a number of seemingly unrelated disappearances by those close to the family – some of which who know much darker things about the harmless and charismatic "cool uncle" façade Charlie puts on for those around him.
Although set in the present day the film has a timeless appeal. Chan-wook’s choice of mise-en-scene and framing are delightfully odd yet visually appealing, while Stoker’s dramatic and eerie tendencies are very reminiscent of M Night Shyamalan's The Village. His direction also makes you see directly into the minds of our mentally “not-all-there” screen leads, all of which perform tremendously throughout the film. Yes, Stoker can be slightly confusing in parts, but what it lacks in linearity it makes up for in sheer shock value and savagery.
It's really great to see solid and original American films can still be made.