Stoker: poetry of evil

There is a spider on India’s shoe. She hasn’t seen it, but somehow she knows it.
The day India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) turns 18 is the same day when her father dies in an accident, and her misterious uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode) comes to spend some time with her and her unstable mother (Nicole Kidman) at the family’s mansion.

It’s easy to guess the emotional triangle already presented in ‘Shadow of a doubt’ (A. Hitchcock,1943), but here the script by Wentworth Miller takes a very different way: this film, by South Korean director Chan-Wook Park, is an affected and poetic gothic tale about evil and its irresistible power of seduction.

Commonly, a vampire is a night criature that feeds on their victim’s blood. They’ve been represented many times as creatures as wicked as beautiful. It could be said that there’s also a vampire in ‘Stoker’, although it doesn’t feed on blood, but on any trace of innocence or goodness. With its infinite power of attraction, seduces everyone around it, taking them through an spiral of mistrust, violence and death, difficult to scape from. Mia Wasikowska, who already felt through the rabbit hole in ‘Alice in Wonderland’ (T. Burton, 2010), falls this time through a much more unhealthy and darker sledge.

The spider climbs India’s leg. Now she clearly feels it. She only has to move her hand to move it aside, but she doesn’t.

Although the plot is quite predictable, ‘Stoker’ is visually splendid. Every shot, every camera movement, is a verse in this macabre poem. Details irrelevant in appearance are indeed disturbing simbols of innocence, of transition to adulthood, of sexual awakening, of life and death. Everything has the only purpouse of creating an oppresive feeling of unease: the big family house with its empty rooms, the dark forests surrounding it… Yes, they’re genre topics, but they work.

The dialogs are short, occasional, intermittent or half voiced. The characters speak more with their eyes, their half-smiles, their hands or their silences. Without a word, a duet played in the old grand piano transforms, slowly, in a crescendo of nearly raw erotism.

Although the piece in that scene is by Philip Glass, the main music is by Clint Mansell: beautiful like a lullaby and gloomy like a requiem, perfectly mirroring both sides of this horror and transgression story, of monsters that were, and monsters that inevitably will be.

The spider disappears between India’s legs.


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