Cold, darkly comic, unnervingly romantic: these descriptions can be applied to most of Park Chan-Wook’s back catalogue. So can themes of broken families, revenge and the haunting nature of the past. He’s an auteur filmmaker, if you’re the kind of person who believes in auteurs. All those elements can just as easily be extracted from Stoker, but this film stands apart because Park made it in English, set in the US and featuring western actors…although three of the cast are Australian, which is kind of closer to Asia so I guess they’re not really western?
Hell, you get the picture. It’s a movie about rich white folks, which is the broadest departure for Park. What isn’t a departure, apart from the list above, is his eye for interesting composition, fetish for textile patterns and striking blocking in action and high-tension sequences.
So why go see it if it’s just the same as all his other stuff? Well, it’s not. Despite all the similarities it’s still as compelling and unsettling and unexpected as anything else he’s done before. I won’t go into the story here, because that’s really not what this film is about; it’s about the tone, and Stoker‘s will make you feel a little bit sick in the best way.
(Oh, and the language gap? Not even a bit of the problem. The dialogue is stilted in places, but that’s much more to do with the characters and is pretty much the point. Nothing to worry about.)