Stoker (film)  

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Train wreck at Montparnasse (October 22, 1895) by Studio Lévy and Sons.
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Stoker is a 2013 British-American psychological thriller film written by Wentworth Miller and directed by South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook in his English-language debut. It stars Mia Wasikowska, Matthew Goode, and Nicole Kidman, and was released on March 1, 2013. It was the last film produced by Tony Scott, who died after production.

Contents

Plot

On her 18th birthday, India Stoker (Mia Wasikowska) - a girl with a strong acuteness of the senses - has her life turned upside down after her loving father Richard (Dermot Mulroney) dies in a horrific car accident. India is then left with her unstable mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman). At Richard's funeral, Evelyn and India are introduced to Richard's charming and charismatic brother Charlie (Matthew Goode), who has spent his life traveling the world. He then announces that he is staying indefinitely to help support India and Evelyn, much to Evelyn's delight and India's chagrin.

Shortly after Charlie moves in, India witnesses him argue with Mrs. McGarrick (Phyllis Somerville), the head caretaker of the house. Mrs. McGarrick then disappears. Charlie and Evelyn grow closer and intimate while India continues to rebuff Charlie's attempts to befriend her. Later, India's great aunt Gwendolyn (Jacki Weaver) arrives to visit the family, much to Evelyn and Charlie's dismay. At dinner, Gwendolyn shows surprise at Charlie's claims of traveling the world and tells Evelyn that she needs to talk to her about Charlie.

Gwendolyn ends up changing hotels due to an unexplained fear and suspicion of Charlie. However, she loses her cell phone and tries to call the Stoker home from her hotel payphone. While she is making her call, Charlie tracks her down and corners her in the phone booth, seeming to be upset. He hands Gwendolyn her phone and then strangles her to death with his belt after explaining that he found her through the cab company. Meanwhile, India goes into the basement to eat ice cream and discovers Mrs. McGarrick's body in the freezer. She realizes Charlie is a murderer.

Later, India unleashes her inner aggression at school and stabs a bully, Chris Pitts (Lucas Till), in the hand with a pencil after he tries to land a surprise punch to her head. This draws the attention of another classmate, Whip Taylor (Alden Ehrenreich). India goes home and later witnesses Evelyn and Charlie growing intimate and wanders off to a local diner where she runs into Whip. She and Whip go into the woods where they proceed to make out until India aggressively bites Whip. Whip then attempts to rape India until Charlie intervenes, and breaks Whip's neck with his belt. India then aids Charlie in burying the body in her garden. She then attempts to call Gwendolyn, but hears her phone ring deep in the garden, realizing Charlie killed her, too. India takes a shower and experiences a sexual awakening, masturbating to the memory of the murder, climaxing as she remembers Charlie breaking Whip's neck.

While going through Richard's office to gather things of his she wants to keep, India discovers that a key she received as a birthday present belongs to a locked drawer to Richard's desk. Inside, she finds several letters from Charlie, which detail his travels. However, India discovers that the sending address on the back of the envelopes is from a mental institution. India then confronts Charlie, who explains the truth: Charlie murdered his and Richard's younger brother Jonathan as a child because he was jealous that Richard paid more attention to him. Charlie was then put in a mental institution for several years. When released on India's 18th birthday, Richard gave Charlie a car, a generous amount of money, and an apartment in New York on the condition that he stay away from Richard's family. Feeling hurt and betrayed, Charlie beat Richard to death with a rock and staged the car accident.

At first, India is in shock and angered. However, she seemingly forgives Charlie and grows closer after he provides an alibi for her when Sheriff Howard (Ralph Brown) questions her about Whip's disappearance. They grow close to intimate before Evelyn witnesses them. Later that evening, Evelyn coldly expresses her desire to watch India suffer before confronting Charlie, implying that she knows the truth about Richard's death. Charlie seduces Evelyn and then attempts to strangle her before India appears and fatally shoots Charlie in the neck with a rifle. She then buries Charlie's body in the backyard and proceeds to leave for New York in his car.

She is shortly pulled over for speeding by Sheriff Howard, who then asks her why she's in a hurry. India replies that she wanted to catch his attention, then plunges a pair of pruning shears into his neck. India pursues the wounded sheriff into a field to dispatch him with her rifle.

Cast

Production

Wentworth Miller, mostly known as an actor, wrote the screenplay for Stoker, as well as a prequel, Uncle Charlie. He used the pseudonym Ted Foulke for submitting his work, later explaining "I just wanted the scripts to sink or swim on their own." Miller's script was voted to the 2010 "Black List" of the 10 best unproduced screenplays then making the rounds in Hollywood. Miller described it as a "horror film, a family drama and a psychological thriller." Although influenced by Bram Stoker's Dracula, Miller clarified that Stoker was "not about vampires. It was never meant to be about vampires but it is a horror story. A stoker is one who stokes, which also ties in nicely with the narrative." Alfred Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt also influenced the film. Miller said: "The jumping-off point is actually Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt. So, that's where we begin, and then we take it in a very, very different direction."

The film marked director Park Chan-wook's English-language debut. In January 2011, it was reported that Mia Wasikowska was in negotiations to play India, and in February, Nicole Kidman also entered negotiations to join the cast. In June, it was reported that Matthew Goode was in talks to play Charlie, after Colin Firth, who was attached earlier, had to drop out. Jacki Weaver, Lucas Till, Alden Ehrenreich, and Dermot Mulroney joined the cast in July and August 2011.

Filming took 40 days beginning in Nashville, Tennessee, in September 2011. The motel scenes were filmed in nearby Murfreesboro on September 22, and additional scenes were shot in Sewanee, home of the University of the South. Principal photography wrapped on October 23.

Composer Philip Glass was originally hired to compose the film's score but was replaced by Clint Mansell.

Hitchcock influence

In addition to screenwriter Wentworth Miller stating that the film was influenced by Shadow of a Doubt, there are a number of Hitchcock's themes, plot devices and motifs used within it. Both Matthew Goode's character and Joseph Cotten's character in Shadow of a Doubt share the name "Uncle Charlie", as well as Hitchcock's use of the likeable criminal. The complexly intertwined relationship that develops between Uncle Charlie and India also references Hitchcock's use of the double with the young Charlie and Uncle Charlie in Shadow of a Doubt. Many of Uncle Charlie and India's key interactions occur on a staircase, which is a Hitchcock motif also used in Shadow of a Doubt. There is a pivotal scene in Stoker that takes place near a train track and the rumbling train makes an aural intrusion, which plays into Hitchcock's use of trains as a sexual euphemism.

Cast




Unless indicated otherwise, the text in this article is either based on Wikipedia article "Stoker (film)" or another language Wikipedia page thereof used under the terms of the GNU Free Documentation License; or on original research by Jahsonic and friends. See Art and Popular Culture's copyright notice.

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