For Stoker is a film of the body, and of all that can go wrong with the body, though not in a strictly literal sense - there are no deformations of the corps here, only of the mind. But the border between mind and body is easily permeable, and both India and her uncle have lost track of where the it should be. The polar extremes of human physical experience - sex and death - are unsettlingly closely entwined here. Most people have sex to create, but for the Stokers, physical pleasure is synonymous with destruction. When a boy harasses India in the schoolyard, she stabs him with a pencil; when she later kisses a different boy, one who stood up for her, she bites his tongue so hard that he begins to bleed. Sex is life-creating and also, of course, self-destroying; there is a reason that the French call it le petit mort. But Stoker pushes this paradox further than usual: death, here, is not merely symbolic, but an actual fact of arousal.


Read more: Mama, Just Killed a Man: Sex and Death in “Stoker”

For Stoker is a film of the body, and of all that can go wrong with the body, though not in a strictly literal sense - there are no deformations of the corps here, only of the mind. But the border between mind and body is easily permeable, and both India and her uncle have lost track of where the it should be. The polar extremes of human physical experience - sex and death - are unsettlingly closely entwined here. Most people have sex to create, but for the Stokers, physical pleasure is synonymous with destruction. When a boy harasses India in the schoolyard, she stabs him with a pencil; when she later kisses a different boy, one who stood up for her, she bites his tongue so hard that he begins to bleed. Sex is life-creating and also, of course, self-destroying; there is a reason that the French call it le petit mort. But Stoker pushes this paradox further than usual: death, here, is not merely symbolic, but an actual fact of arousal.

Read more: Mama, Just Killed a Man: Sex and Death in “Stoker”


Early in Stoker, the English-language debut from South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook, we see a spider creep up Mia Wasikowska’s stockinged leg; later, it darts all the way past the border of her skirt, to uncharted and unseen territory and out of our sight. The spider is an apt image with which to begin our journey into Park’s film: it may as well be its overriding principle, its guiding logic. The camera itself is somehow spiderlike, darting around the Stoker family’s grand old mansion and the bodies that populate it. Though India Stoker (Wasikowska) is undeniably our protagonist, Park’s camera doesn’t hew to her point of view, instead swooping around her and her mother and uncle (Nicole Kidman and Matthew Goode, respectively) almost manically, skittering between people and places and times without restraint. There are dark things hidden in the Stoker house, and in the Stoker bloodline, and as we watch the movie, Park and his camera pull us down the rabbit hole toward them.

Read more: Mama, Just Killed a Man: Sex and Death in “Stoker”

Early in Stoker, the English-language debut from South Korean filmmaker Park Chan-wook, we see a spider creep up Mia Wasikowska’s stockinged leg; later, it darts all the way past the border of her skirt, to uncharted and unseen territory and out of our sight.

The spider is an apt image with which to begin our journey into Park’s film: it may as well be its overriding principle, its guiding logic. The camera itself is somehow spiderlike, darting around the Stoker family’s grand old mansion and the bodies that populate it. Though India Stoker (Wasikowska) is undeniably our protagonist, Park’s camera doesn’t hew to her point of view, instead swooping around her and her mother and uncle (Nicole Kidman and Matthew Goode, respectively) almost manically, skittering between people and places and times without restraint. There are dark things hidden in the Stoker house, and in the Stoker bloodline, and as we watch the movie, Park and his camera pull us down the rabbit hole toward them.

Read more: Mama, Just Killed a Man: Sex and Death in “Stoker”