After the death of her father, India (Mia Wasikowska) watches as her uncle (Matthew Goode) comes to stay and seemingly begins to seduce her mother (Nicole Kidman). Realising something is not right, India attempts to confront him and learn the truth.
When a film starts in what looks like a rather sleepy way, I generally expect it to stay that way. In a sense, Stoker did keep its odd languid pace but oh sweet Jesus did it make me sit bolt upright and mouth soundless screams towards the screen. This is film making like you’ve never seen it before.
There’s something just perfect about each and every shot here. While slow-moving shots of grass and spiders crawling up legs sound like the staple diet of avant-garde European film makers, Stoker somehow makes every second, no matter how seemingly inconsequential, riveting as fuck.
I’m really grasping at straws, words, and mixing my metaphors here as I try to convey just how jarring but how unassuming this film is. By being so smooth and graceful, you expect a happier, freer drama but you’re presented with something quite different.
When it comes to the acting, Mia Wasikowska remains as excellent as she always is, perhaps a little racier now she’s out of the Alice in Wonderland costume but a solid performance all round. It’s nice to see Nicole Kidman popping up again but the person who really steals the show from start to finish has to be the uncle, Matthew Goode. Aside from being handsome enough to make me unable to cross my legs, he will glue your eyes to the screen every second he appears. He manages to make it a fine line between being horrifically awful person and somebody you’d love to be confined to a small room with for the rest of your days.
But by far the lasting triumph of this film is the sound. As well as having a gorgeously crafted and arranged soundtrack, there is a plot device in which India is able to hear sounds far more clearly than anybody else. In fact, this is introduced in the opening lines. In order to illustrate this and also creep the living bejeebus out of you in all the right places, all the background noises: footsteps, birds, grass rustling, breathing, is all amplified just a touch more than usual. Loud enough to let you just about know, but quiet enough to still be background noise. Genius I tell you. Genius. This will stay with you for far longer than you care to admit, and for all the right reasons.