I honestly couldn’t be happier with the first name I’ve drawn to kick off this month of May-hem. She’s new to the block here at the lair and she just so happens to be one of my favorite recent horror movie discoveries from one of my favorite recent horror director discoveries.
Meet India Stoker, star of Korean director Chan-wook Park’s English-language debut Stoker. Now, mind you, I’m not going to give reviews of the movies from which these characters derive, nor am I going to reveal any spoilers in what I write about them. I’ve chosen these characters for reasons that I believe make them worth discovering on your own, denizens. It’s up to you to find out if you agree with my choices.
That being said, I will let you know that this film definitely falls into the “coming of age” category. Every genre has them. Horror just makes them more enjoyable (putting the “fun” in “dysfunctional” never felt so right…if by “right,” you mean traumatizing and wrong). The movie starts out with a life-altering event for India that introduces an even more powerful altering agent into her rather staid, controlled world. However, there’s a reason why those in India’s life maintained such standards of control and ritual over her up to this point. Now that those standards have vanished…well, India’s got a whole world of opportunity ahead of her that she never considered before.
To his credit, Park directed a brilliant first entry into English-language horror. Best known among genre fans for his “Vengeance” trilogy, he once again shows his affinity for exploring humanity’s bleakness in visually stunning ways. Here, he shows us a steadily, carefully paced story wrapped in the finery of beautifully crafted shots.
He also did quite well by casting Mia Wasikowska as India. Probably most familiar to American audiences as Alice from Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland, she possesses features of porcelain delicacy, a gaze of ethereal inscrutability, and the ability to slip in and out of indifference as easily as one slips into a pair of shoes (and, mind you, shoes play quite a role in this movie).
India is a complexity that urges understanding, but be careful of the reward for your curiosity.