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Mixed or average reviews - based on 42 Critics What's this?

User Score
7.3

Generally favorable reviews- based on 153 Ratings

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Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 24 out of 42
  2. Negative: 4 out of 42
  1. Reviewed by: Olly Richards
    Feb 25, 2013
    100
    An intense mix of horror, thriller and domestic drama, this is exquisite film making.
  2. Reviewed by: Eric Kohn
    Feb 5, 2013
    83
    More blatantly an exercise in style than anything on par with the director's crowning achievements, and suffers to some degree from the predictability of its premise.
  3. Reviewed by: John DeFore
    Feb 5, 2013
    80
    Park's unsettling visuals and his handling of the cast make the occasional holes in Wentworth Miller's script practically irrelevant.
  4. Reviewed by: Joe Williams
    Mar 14, 2013
    63
    Like a taxidermied owl, Stoker is lovely to look at, but in the end it’s hard to give a hoot.
  5. Reviewed by: A.O. Scott
    Feb 28, 2013
    60
    The final act of Stoker walks a fine line between the sensational and the silly. Mr. Park is less interested in narrative suspense than in carefully orchestrated shocks and camouflaged motives.
  6. Reviewed by: Rick Groen
    Feb 28, 2013
    50
    Park is busy treating every frame like a runway model, dressing it up in self-conscious layers of cinematic haute couture. It’s gorgeous to gaze upon but otherwise dessicated – listless, juiceless and ultimately pointless. For all his exemplary camera work, there’s no motion, or emotion, in the picture.
  7. Reviewed by: Rodrigo Perez
    Feb 5, 2013
    16
    The risible Stoker is a brutally empty, deeply unfortunate movie, and Park Chan-wook's jackhammer of a tool he calls a brush is, on this evidence, something that should be locked away.

See all 42 Critic Reviews

Score distribution:
  1. Positive: 18 out of 33
  2. Negative: 7 out of 33
  1. Mar 1, 2013
    10
    It's safe to say that fans of the Director will be pleased but so wil regular audiences as well. This is a GREAT thriller which is simultaneous vividly stunning with excellent performances. Look for this to steal some Oscars next year. Expand
  2. Jul 13, 2013
    10
    I cannot express how into this I was. The fantastic acting, terrific cinematography and minimalist filmmaking helps exponentially. I can't really describe it, but suffice it to say that the callous and rigid character adds so much to immense freakiness of it all; lighting, quick cuts and scenes in one shot are so admirable. People need to understand that it isn't just about a mysterious and sociopathic uncle interrupting a girl and her mother's lives. The acting, atmosphere, tone, set pieces, metaphors, symbolism, writing, how the script ties together, directing, cinematography, score, editing, sound design, lighting and more explore the thematic elements of jealousy, maturity, coming of age, growing sexuality, family dynamics, and loss of innocence. Even if you based it off of its surface value and basic plot, it would still be solid due to its flourishes of difference in plot and filmmaking. This is easily the best film of 2013, and one of my favorite films of all time. It's up there with Kubrick and (the latter, of course, since it was based off of Shadow of a Doubt). 9.7/10, masterful, two thumbs up, etc. Expand
  3. Aug 23, 2013
    9
    Disturbing, beautiful and twisted. Stoker is an underrated masterpiece that, though a little confusing and messy at times, is a loving tribute to films that has been made with care and creativity. With great actor and fantastic directing from Park Chan Wook, the genius behind Oldboy, and a great debut from new screenwriter and actor, Wentworth Miller, Stoker is one of this year's best. Expand
  4. Jun 4, 2013
    7
    Park Chan-wook's latest is a seductive slice of suspense titled "Stoker," and it is carried with some unexpected supernatural bravura. It's not understated to say moviegoers' were thrilled when director Park Chan-wook, director of the legendary "Oldboy" (2003) and "Lady Vengeance" (2005), announced he was making his first English language feature film. Park is a truly talented director, a visual stylist with a flair for mystery. He is best known on these shores for his notorious, visceral, and character-driven 'Vengeance Trilogy'. Unfortunately, some American viewers familiar with his work, accompanied with their lofty expectations, won't get what they might have expected and hoped for.

    India (Mia Wasikowska) is an emotionally distant 18-year-old living with her mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman) in a sprawling mansion somewhere in the Deep South. She is mourning the recent death of her father in a car accident, and she was not prepared to lose her father and best friend Richard (Dermot Mulroney) in a tragic auto accident. The solitude of her woodsy family estate, the peacefulness of her tranquil town, and the unspoken somberness of her home life are suddenly upended by not only this mysterious accident. Then there is the sudden arrival of her Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), whom she never knew existed. When Charlie moves in with her and her emotionally unstable mother, India thinks the void left by her father's death is finally being filled by his closest bloodline. Soon after his arrival however, India comes to suspect that this mysterious, charming man has ulterior motives. Yet instead of feeling outrage or horror, this friendless young woman becomes increasingly infatuated with him.

    Technical achievements are almost nullified in large part to a pair of mitigating factors the first of which is Wentworth Miller's compelling, yet flawed screenplay. The fact that the most sympathetic people in the film are dead before it even starts doesn't help. Elegant direction helps to elevate a wearisome story line, but the cast plays things a bit too cool for comfort in "Stoker"- a morbid inversion of Alfred "Shadow of a Doubt" (1943). Thematically, Park's eerie domestic drama fits nicely into his criterion, though its distinctive lack of sympathetic characters keeps us at arm's length when we should have a sense of being emotionally invested. While Wasikowska is a talented actress, she's curiously flat here in her role as India. The potential for a complex, distressed protagonist is present, but the progression you're waiting for never quite comes. While it's understandable that India might seem emotionally distant following such a trauma, but she overplays the disaffected nature of her mourning, that it blunts her story's emotional impact. Likewise, her character's frustrated and secluded mother never comes across as remotely likeable. Miller's sense of pacing plays well to Park's strengths in sustaining tension ensuring that the audience remains engaged--and the major reveals are well hidden by Miller, as he skillfully plays his cards close to his chest.

    The overall result is a nerve-racking riff, and in its own right, is well made and certainly respectable. However, all of which contributes to the nagging idea that "Stoker" doesn't truly know what it wants to be. The story seems to have been pushed and pulled in a variety of directions by different parties. The film feels 'tainted' by Hollywood-a movie that is well polished and yet restrained, and nothing close to resembling a traditional South Korean thriller. A film that is worth the watch, but falls short of expectations and being truly memorable.
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  5. Sep 20, 2013
    5
    Very uneven some good scenes, but a lot of uninteresting sequences. Visually great. Length is ok. but there are much, much better thrillers out there. In the end all style, little substance. Expand
  6. Aug 13, 2013
    4
    This review contains spoilers. Prior to and superseding Old Boy, the penultimate film of Park Chan Wook's Vengeance Trilogy, incest is intimated(whereas incest becomes actualized in the 2003 Cannes Grand Prix winner), a forerunner to Stoker, his American major studio debut, where sexual tension between an uncle and niece is unequivocally stressed. At the outset of Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance, a mute brother and his dying sister hold each other like lovers as they look out toward the coastline, while over the soundtrack, the brother's letter is read over the radio airwaves, a letter that promises his beloved sibling, a kidney. During the convalescence, she allows Ryu to wipe down her arms and legs in the nude, save for a towel, a sponge bath that conveys the potential for transgressive intimacy. It's the ease and lack of self-consciousness about exposed skin from the pair which suggests a chummy history. In Lady Vengeance, incest is employed as metaphor, when Geum-ja, a parolee wrongly accused of child murder, has sex with a bakery co-worker who sees her as an "elder sister", a teenager at least fifteen years Geum-ja's junior. Incest, however, in Old Boy, rises above the subtext and begets two separate but interlocking interfamilial relationships that climaxes into the most tragic of tragi-comic endings. It's only natural that the South Korean filmmaker would choose to remake Shadow of a Doubt, the perviest of films in the Alfred Hitchc*ck ouevre. Not for nothing, in Stoker, does Evelyn, the mother, brag to Uncle Charlie, her brother-in-law, about the recently widowed woman's ability to speak perfect French, since Francois Truffaut(The Bride Wore Black) famously refashioned tropes to his own European art-house sensibilities, as does Wook Park(working from a script he didn't pen), who ferrets out the depravity that courses through the veins of Charlie and Young Charlie(visually linked by matching introductory shots of them lying down on beds) in Shadow of a Doubt, Our Town's shadow, the 1942 film with a similar double-barreled incest storyline as Old Boy. "Have you ever seen...yourself," India asks a boy, "...from an angle you don't get to see when you're in the mirror," while walking in the woods, just prior to his attack on her. Stepping out from behind the trees, Charlie rescues India, giving his niece a chance to flail away at her oversexed classmate, after he bonds his wrists and ankles together. Very obliquely, India's little speech recalls Old Boy, when Soo-ah allows Woo-jim, her brother, to molest the consenting schoolgirl in an empty classroom, going so far as taking out a compact mirror so she can get a better look at this familial lover giving her exposed breasts a tongue bath. She then tilts the mirror up to her smiling face. Echoing India's words, the smile says, "That's me. That's also me." Comparably, that's India in the bathroom, staring at herself, too, in the looking glass, before she enters the shower, where a different, more grisly recount of the boy's murder by Uncle Charlie's hands play out; a murder fantasy that serves as onanistic material for autoerotic sex under hot water. Both violence and taboo love turns India on. But what about Young Charlie? The filmmaker, in Stoker, makes more explicit the sexual longing and violent disposition already inherent in the uncle's namesake, whose "miracle" could be comparable to India's "longing to be rescued, to be completed," if not for the oppressive sexual climate of her times. Whereas India is an only child, mourning the sudden death of her father, Young Charlie has a full complement of parents and siblings. It's this stable family life, perhaps, that helps stave off her incubated unwholesome side which the uncle tries desperately, but fails to activate. Like Young Charlie, India is in simpatico with this long-lost uncle, sharing her counterpart's gift of telepathy, in which she hears Charlie's words of introduction from afar at the funeral. In Shadow of a Doubt, Young Charlie hums a few bars of the "Merry Widow Waltz", to the dismay of her uncle, who later attempts to romance his niece with an emerald ring. Earlier, through visual metaphor, Hitchc*ck shows how he wants to deflower Young Charlie. But what about the girl? Is she willing? It must be sexual attraction that prevents Young Charlie from turning the Merry Widow Murderer in? That much is made clear when, analogously, India doesn't report the discovery of their housekeeper in the family's pantry freezer. Back at the funeral party, India observes, "You look like my father," and because he's her uncle, she can safely realize her daddy fantasies without guilt. When Evelyn catches Charlie helping India slip into a pair of high heels, it confirms, perhaps, something she always suspected about her husband and daughter. Like Min-Sik(who beds his daughter), India, the "young girl", doesn't fully realize who the person she's attracted to really is. Collapse
  7. Jul 27, 2013
    0
    This review contains spoilers, click expand to view. A pointless movie, without any psychology in it, like a good horror movie shoud have, no moral, no talcum, a pointless, useless story about a girl who kills people without any purpose. Ok, she murdered that boy from school because he was tryin' to do her thing. But...the police man??? Bad, simply bad. Expand

See all 33 User Reviews

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