Rating: Bram Stoker wrote the horror classic “Dracula” in 1897. We may not have vampires in this film, but we clearly have some of his relatives.
The Stoker family has some profound issues. To be quite frank, I think Hannibal Lector would be afraid to visit if he had to stay overnight.
Everyone is profoundly deranged and delusional. The father, played by Dermot Mulroney, has died in a apparent car crash. For some reason, the coroner must be new to the job, as he has chosen to overlook some rock-like injuries to daddy’s head.
Surviving the old man are his wife and 18-year old daughter, who are somewhat distant given the fact that they have never really spoken to one another. Nicole Kidman plays the shut-in widow, and she is the spitting image here of the clueless low life she played in the incredibly awful The Paperboy (2012).
Mia Wasikowska dominates the film as the daughter, India Stoker. Her entire life seems to have been little more than constantly frowning. When father dearest was alive, it seems that he spent all of his free time teaching her how to kill and mount small birds. Additionally, she has a profound aversion to being touched by anyone, including mommy. And oh yes, did I mention her fascination with saddle shoes?
Though it is clear that the Stokers don’t have a remote understanding on how to have fun, even their depressed lives collapse with the appearance at father’s funeral of a missing uncle played by Matthew Goode. This is one guy you would have to avoid at a family reunion, as he has an unfortunate propensity to kill relatives, not to mention friends of the family. Without describing his activity in any more detail, it’s time to say, “Goodnight, Irene”, if you’re with him and he starts to remove his belt.
Let me simply say that this is a nightmarish art film from beginning to end. It’s not that it is a bad film, as the camera work is frequently quite spectacular. On the other hand, I couldn’t help but feel that the principal goal of Director Chan-Wook Park was to bring a movie to the screen that would likely cause fits of dementia in the popcorn eating crowd.
Put another way, it is mind numbingly chilling to finally realize that you’ve just crawled under the cinematic skin of a family of psychopaths. The last movie covering this subject, the far better Animal Kingdom (2010), starred Jacki Weaver, who also briefly appears here. However, she soon is forced to confront the disturbing reality that unlike her demented sons in the above film, she finds herself in Stoker related to a sociopath who doesn’t feel the need to show any motherly love.
While I don’t dare give away the ending, think of the title of the old Disney movie, Something Wicked This Way Comes (1983). If young India asks you out to go hunting, claim you have a brain tumor.