Stylish but gruesomely violent thriller riffs on Hitchcock.
  • Review Date: March 14, 2013
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2013
  • Running Time: 98 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

A teen girl learns to handle herself in tough situations, though her choices aren't always right -- or healthy.

Positive role models

The characters mostly indulge in illegal/immoral/base activities -- murder, sex, etc.


Several murders, each one seemingly more grisly and brutal than the one before it. A woman is strangled. A man receives a rifle blast to the head, with a huge, dripping blood smear on the wall (plus a puddle of blood underneath his body). A man is stabbed with pruning shears and sprays blood everywhere. A man is bashed in the head with a rock, with blood spatters. A bully picks on a teen girl; he feigns punching her in the face, and she stabs him with a pencil. A teen boy is strangled, and a teen girl repeatedly kicks him while he's down. A small boy is killed by being buried in the sand, though this isn't shown on screen. A dead body is found in a freezer.


A teen girl masturbates (implied) in the shower while fantasizing about a murder that has previously occurred. Her buttocks are shown during this sequence, and one nipple is briefly seen. Two adults kiss, and the man caresses the woman's breast through her clothing. Two teens kiss, and the girl bites the boy's tongue. An older man and his niece play piano together, and the scene is played for eroticism. The girl begins breathing heavily from excitement. In an art class, viewers see a drawing of a naked girl (shown from behind).


A bully uses the word "bitch" in one scene. Another character calls him an "a-hole."

Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

A teen girl gulps a glass of wine. Her mother is shown to be drinking wine quite often and is perhaps a tiny bit tipsy in some scenes. It's possible that she could either be drowning her sorrows and frustrations -- or she could have a drinking problem.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that Stoker is a dark thriller that riffs on Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt and has nothing to do with Dracula author Bram Stoker. The movie is filled with gruesome murders and lots of blood, including spraying, spattering, and dribbling down a wall. Characters are strangled; others are killed with hunting rifles, rocks to the head, and pruning shears to the neck. There's some strong, somewhat dark sexual innuendo. A teen girl masturbates in the shower (a nipple and buttocks are shown), and there are kissing scenes with both teens and adults. One adult character drinks wine regularly and perhaps overindulges a bit too often. A teen girl gulps a glass of wine. Language is sparse, with only a use of "bitch." The movie is very stylish and non-realistic, and teen movie buffs -- especially those familiar with director Park Chan-wook's Korean films -- will be interested in seeing it. But it's recommended only for the most mature viewers.

What's the story?

On the occasion of the death of Richard Stoker, his teen daughter, India (Mia Wasikowska), must begin adjusting to life without her beloved father. They had a special bond that India's mother, Evelyn (Nicole Kidman), never shared. Now, things are thrown further off-balance by the sudden reappearance of Richard's estranged brother, Charlie (Matthew Goode). Charlie starts subtly manipulating Evelyn while keeping an eye on India, and India begins to notice that some of his odd behavior indicates a predilection for murder. But an even bigger shock is in store for India when she discovers that she, herself, might share the same tendencies.

Is it any good?


STOKER is notable as the English-language debut of celebrated Korean director Park Chan-wook (Oldboy, Lady Vengeance). Aside from a stylish obsession with violence, though, Stoker has little in common with his prior works, which may lead to die-hard fans' disappointment. But moviegoers coming in fresh will discover a fascinating thriller that's expertly constructed to elicit darker emotions, rather than simple spine tingles.

Stoker borrows a few ideas from Hitchcock's Shadow of a Doubt (1943), but it quickly diverges from that movie into frightening new territory. Park's patient storytelling and odd imagery (a tiny spider, large round boulders, fancy shoes, a dried blood trail, etc.) contribute to a unique vision that's altogether different from the Master of Suspense. It's admirable how effortlessly Park adapts to English, fearlessly exploring his creepy, squirmy themes without compromise. He's a most welcome new addition to Hollywood.

Families can talk about...

  • Families can talk about Stoker's violence. How does it work within the context of the story? Could it have been less gruesome?

  • What is India's relationship with her mother like? How do they communicate? How could they improve their communication?

  • Does India seem too young to be so sexualized? What message does her character send teens who might see the movie?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:March 1, 2013
DVD release date:June 18, 2013
Cast:Matthew Goode, Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman
Director:Park Chan-wook
Studio:Fox Searchlight
Run time:98 minutes
MPAA rating:R
MPAA explanation:disturbing violent and sexual content

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Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

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Adult Written bywonder dove July 1, 2013

Didn't like it.

Okay, I tried watching this movie twice. The first time I could only get about half way through. I watched it all the second time and happened to get through it all...very very very slow movie. At first it seems like a strange story, but it does add up and make sense. I do like the storyline, however, it was just way too slow moving. Actors did an amazing job, so I rated it two stars. Mia Wasikowska is a fantastic young actress. I'd recommend a one time watch, but I personally wouldn't watch this film again. Language is not a problem, a couple name calling words. Sexual content has some nudity (not sure why people are saying too much nudity? There's only one semi-scene in a shower!) also some sexual innuendo, a man gropes a woman, a sensual piano playing session, a female masturbation scene (not bad) and some kissing. Violence is gory, some murders occur, the face of a dead body is seen in a freezer, pencil stabbings, kicking and strangling, some bullying. No smoking or drug use at all, just some drinking. Not for kids under 16!
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Teen, 15 years old Written byBestMan333 April 13, 2013

Superior And Tense Thriller

This movie very good, with tense but ingenious acting and a great storyline, but too mature for older teens. I recommend 17+. I would rate this film R For Violent Material, Strong Sexuality, Graphic Nudity & Strong Language
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex
Too much swearing
Teen, 16 years old Written byB-KMastah March 28, 2013

A masterpiece. The best of 2013.

I cannot express how into this I was. The fantastic acting, terrific cinematography and minimalist filmmaking helps exponentially. I can't really describe it, but suffice it to say that the callous and rigid character adds so much to immense freakiness of it all; lighting, quick cuts and scenes in one shot are so admirable. People need to understand that it isn't just about a mysterious and sociopathic uncle interrupting a girl and her mother's lives. The acting, atmosphere, tone, set pieces, metaphors, symbolism, writing, how the script ties together, directing, cinematography, score, editing, sound design, lighting and more explore the thematic elements of jealousy, maturity, coming of age, growing sexuality, family dynamics, and loss of innocence. Even if you based it off of its surface value and basic plot, it would still be solid due to its flourishes of difference in plot and filmmaking. This is easily the best film of 2013, and one of my favorite films of all time. It's up there with Kubrick and Hitchcock (the latter, of course, since it was based off of Shadow of a Doubt). 9.7/10, masterful, two thumbs up, etc.
What other families should know
Too much violence
Too much sex


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