CULTURE

Stoker

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.”

Stoker

“Nicole (above) and Mia are both such intelligent women—but also so different from each other. One of my greatest joys on set was observing their approaches as actors.”

Photographer: Macall Polay

“Nicole and Mia (above) are both such intelligent women—but also so different from each other. One of my greatest joys on set was observing their approaches as actors.”

Photographer: Macall Polay

“I wanted Matthew and Mia (above), whose characters are related, to resemble each other in certain close-ups, so we changed the color of Mia’s hair and eyes to match Matthew’s. And over the course of the shoot they grew to be mirror images of each other. It sends chills down your spine.”

Photographer: Macall Polay

“I wanted Matthew (above) and Mia, whose characters are related, to resemble each other in certain close-ups, so we changed the color of Mia’s hair and eyes to match Matthew’s. And over the course of the shoot they grew to be mirror images of each other. It sends chills down your spine.”

Photographer: Macall Polay

“I directed through an interpreter, but the actors sometimes intuited the meaning. My understanding with my director of photography, Chung-hoon Chung (far right in center photo, next to me in middle), who has shot almost all of my films since Oldboy, hardly requires words.”

Photographer: Macall Polay
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