Director Park Chan-Wook takes us behind the scenes of his dark new thriller.
For American fans of Park Chan-wook’s ultrastylized films, the Korean director’s appeal rests largely on bloody revenge epics like Oldboy. His hyperkinetic stagings of sex, violence, and extreme anguish can do a number on the faint of heart—or stomach. (One admirer is Spike Lee, who is currently remaking the 2003 cult favorite.) But uncharacteristically, in his first English-language feature Park has opted for a somewhat less aggressive approach. “I wanted to make something quite small,” he says of Stoker, an exquisitely tense psychological thriller with horror elements. “What violence there is feels even more visceral.” While it does contain some overt brutality, Stoker is at its core a coming-of-age tale: After her father’s death, troubled teenager India (Mia Wasikowska) and her mother (Nicole Kidman) are further unsettled by the arrival of an estranged uncle (Matthew Goode). Under the influence of her alluring relative, India has a climactic metamorphosis—as often happens in Park’s films—in a sinister twist that perverts viewer expectations. “Certain subjects may no longer be taboo in cinema,” Park says. “But there are ways to treat them that still create shock.”