UTG’S 31 Days Of Halloween: ‘Stoker’

Of all the holidays celebrated worldwide, no single day is more loved by the UTG staff than Halloween. With the arrival of October, the time has finally come to begin rolling out a plethora of features and special announcements we have prepared in celebration of our favorite day, including the one you’re about to read.

31 Days Of Halloween is a recurring daily feature that will run throughout the month of October. The hope and goal of this column is to supply every UTG reader with a daily horror (or Halloween themed) movie recommendation that is guaranteed to amplify your All Hallows’ Eve festivities. We’ll be watching every film the day it’s featured, and we hope you’ll follow along at home. If you have a suggestion, contact us and we may include your favorite scarefest in an upcoming column!


Day 26: Stoker (2013)

A tragic death, a troubled daughter, and the arrival of a mysterious uncle. Stoker’s plot is nothing, and everything.

There is no “in” for the hyper-sensitized world of Stoker. Our subject is a certain young woman, India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska). She lives in a preternaturally clean, sparse manse with her emotionally incompatible mother (Nicole Kidman). After the tragic death of the father and husband (Dermot Mulroney), a car accident that had him two states over for an unknown purpose, the two are joined by the aforementioned mysterious uncle (Matthew Good) – an uncle whose distant, calculating manner is uncomfortable, and uncomfortably similar to India’s own.

This is the foundation, the trappings. The real draws – the style, the tension, the visuals, the unnerving at one’s very core – build up from there.

India’s own peculiarities pervade the film around her. The film is clearly the product of a director with a real, actualized vision. That director is Park Chan-Wook, renowned for his Vengeance trilogy. This is his first English language film, but a language change did not hamper the director’s proclivity for the clean, the weird, the violent, the visually arresting.

Everything is so very clean and purposeful, as if borne of India’s own psyche. We see what she sees – a beetle rolling dung in the grass, a spider making its way up her leg. The whites are so very white, and the reds, so very, very red.

And the cinematography itself – my, how it shines.

The number of gorgeous shots in this movie – and gorgeous, disturbing shots – is truly remarkable. When India grieves in bed, surrounded by the shoes her father has bought for her over the years (all arrayed carefully in their perfectly white boxes), we respond with a sharp intake of breath. Kidman’s gold locks turn into long, waving grass with the stroke of a hairbrush, and we marvel. There is a marriage of two scenes, one in a shower and the other in the woods, that is so terribly effective that it feels it must linger long afterward, only to be outdone by the ending. And then, there is the violence – rare, but sudden and striking.

The film succeeds because of more than its appearance, though. Wasikowska’s performance is a complete transformation; Goode may never get a better role than the detached curiosity and subtle smirking of Charlie Stoker.

Most importantly, though, the film delivers the psychological disturbance it promises, and it gives an ending that violently unsettles. “Becomes the Color” is the title of the Emily Wells song that closes out the film. I can think of no more appropriate title.

Editorial written by: Tyler HananFollow him on Twitter
Last year’s Day 26 film: The Last Exorcism

Tyler Hanan
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