Stoker movie review: Death becomes her

Mar 1, 2013 at 9:00 a.m. ET

Think your family is messed up? Meet the Stokers, a Southern family saturated with dark mysteries and secret desires. Nicole Kidman and Mia Wasikowska play a mother and daughter in mourning, yet both compete for the attention of the charismatic and sexy Uncle Charles when he shows up inexplicably at their home. This dark indie has lust and murder on its mind.


5 Stars: Perfect for Hitchcock fans

17-year-old India (Mia Wasikowska) is devastated when her father Richard (Dermot Mulroney) is killed in a car crash. Her father was her prince and they often went on hunting trips together.

India’s mother Evelyn (Nicole Kidman) has always envied India’s close connection with her father, especially as the marriage grew stale over the last few years. At Richard’s funeral, Uncle Charles appears like a phoenix out of his brother's ashes, inappropriately delighting Evelyn, but infuriating India. Turns out, India never knew her Uncle Charles existed.

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India is a sullen girl with an intensified sense of hearing and is plagued by the whispers and ticking clocks most of us don’t notice. Her 18th birthday is nearing and she mourns her father’s death alone by sitting in a tree, wearing the black-and-white Oxford shoes her father had given her every year. Her schoolgirl shoes play a symbolic role in this movie about a girl coming of age. The scene where she sheds them for high heels is creepy and sensual at the same time.

India soon develops a secret crush on Charles, who seems to be the only one in the world left who understands her. Part paternal longing, part sexual craving, India wants to get closer to Charles, despite her discovery of his dark past.

Wasikowska is brilliant as the tragic, gothic teen whose body betrays her mind. Kidman is fascinating as the complex mother who longs for her daughter’s loyalty while making every mistake in the book. British actor Matthew Goode plays Charles with measured charm and sinister intentions.


Bottom line: Stoker is a tight mystery that burns with sensuality while revealing a dark story, Hitchcock-style. The eerie, shoe-gaze music makes getting the soundtrack a must. Download this song: "Becomes the Color" by Emily Wells

Run time is one hour, 38 minutes. There are no extra scenes after the credits.

Photo credits: Fox Searchlight