I just spent a good ten minutes attempting to come up with a witty and original tagline to go with the title of this review, but eventually had to admit defeat and go with three words that sum up Stoker perfectly… what the hell?
The plot centres around India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) and her mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman) and the state of their family unit following the death of her father. Right on cue, shady uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) turns up and it’s at this point, precisely four and a half minutes in, that the film starts to lose its mind. What I wanted was a dark, twisted and macabre take on the ways in which the family unit can be distressed and disturbed by the loss of an integral member, but what I got instead was an A-level master class in symbolism that ended up being more funny than frightening. Stoker does a great job of addressing the wider issues at play such as the loss of innocence and a somewhat skewed version of the Electra complex, but in paying so much attention to the Freudian symbolism (of which there is plenty, PLENTY) it completely forgets to incorporate a discernible and fluid story line.
The cast did an admirable job of making what is ultimately one hell of a messy film watchable. Wasikowska puts one in mind of a slightly older and even more emotionally disturbed Wednesday Addams, although I’m sure we never saw Christina Ricci violently masturbate to the thoughts of a murder she was involved in just hours before. Matthew Goode has nothing more to do than perfect that stereotypical cinematic serial killer stare which he does without problem, and Nicole Kidman’s fragile screen presence seems to work for her character in the context of the plot. In fact, the dynamic between her and Wasikowska was one of the most interesting and unfortunately underused aspects of the film, something I would have liked to have seen more of.
So overall Stoker gets a 2 out of 5 from me. An interesting concept that ultimately leaves you with so many unanswered questions that you would have been better off never having seen it in the first place.