Park Chan-wook's Stoker buries movie love
As we witness the death of cinephilia, movies like Stoker pop up to remind us how deeply we've buried originality, inspiration and sincerity. In Stoker's story of a teenage girl's erotic and murderous awakening, India (Mia Wasikowska) endures her father's funeral by rejecting her grieving mother (Nicole Kidman) and succumbing to the sinister charms of Uncle Charlie (Matthew Goode), her father's estranged weird brother.
The Uncle Charlie figure is meant to echo the Merry Widow serial killer played by Joseph Cotton in Alfred Hitchcock's 1945 Shadow of a Doubt-a steal as obvious as the insects crawling up India's legs and the soft-core shower scene are meant to evoke Brian DePalma's 1976 Carrie. These are not just film-buff references; they're careless allusions intended to excite semi-cinema-literate viewers. With the death of cinephilia, corrupted old movie tropes become a crutch for naïve audiences and critics who can't discern sloppy narrative craft yet are fooled by something that seems vaguely classical or mythic.