The trailer for Stoker teased the Hitchcockian atmosphere and underlying tension inherent to Oldboy helmer Park Chan-wook’s American directorial debut, based on a script penned by actor Wentworth Miller (Prison Break), with contributions from Erin Cressida Wilson (Secretary, Chloe). However, the international preview delves deeper into the troubling domestic drama that lies at the heart of the slow-burn thriller (which was inspired by Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt).
We get a closer look into what happens to young India (Mia Wasikowska) after her father (Dermot Mulroney) dies in a tragic car accident (or is it?), leaving her alone to cope with her emotionally-unstable mother, Evelyn (Nicole Kidman). That is, before the alluring and enigmatic Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) arrives in town.
As you can see, the Stoker family sets a new standard for dysfunctional, what with Evelyn and Charlie forming a not-so-healthy intimate connection – not to mention, India becoming increasingly infatuated with her cryptic relative as she learns more about his insidious nature. Sure, there are benefits to having a kindly uncle who’s got a dark side to him (as illustrated in the international trailer), but when he’s also interested in both you and your troubled mother, well… the cons probably outweigh the benefits.
Miller has offered assurances that Stoker is not, in fact, a vampire film; though, the title (a reference to Dracula author Bram Stoker) reinforces the interpretation that Uncle Charlie amounts to a metaphorical creature of the night who feeds on the ‘essence’ of living women. Chan-wook and his director of photography Chung-hoon Chung emphasize that idea by framing Goode as a handsome, bright-eyed man, whose appearance contrasts his monstrous behavior.
Wasikowska’s gradual transformation from a morose teen into a psychotic young woman seems captivating; meanwhile, Kidman looks to deliver an excellent, yet understated, performance as a parent-gone-mad. Dark, visually-poetic character studies are Chan-wook’s trademark, so it’s encouraging to see that he still has his edge intact after crossing over into American filmmaking.
Stoker opens in theaters on March 1st, 2013.