A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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.
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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?
Korean director Park Chan-wook tends to have a stylish obsession with violence; Stoker has little in common with his prior works, though, which may disappoint die-hard fans. 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.
Talk to your kids 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?
For kids who love thrills
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Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.
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