By Jeffrey Anderson,
Common Sense Media Reviewer
Common Sense Media Reviewers
Stylish but gruesomely violent thriller riffs on Hitchcock.
A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
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.
Violence & Scariness
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.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
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).
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A bully uses the word "bitch" in one scene. Another character calls him an "a-hole."
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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.
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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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Where to Watch
Based on 3 parent reviews
Great film full of stylish twists and turns
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Dark psychological thriller too intense and complex for younger viewers. 17+
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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?
- In theaters: March 1, 2013
- On DVD or streaming: June 18, 2013
- Cast: Matthew Goode, Mia Wasikowska, Nicole Kidman
- Director: Park Chan-wook
- Studio: Fox Searchlight
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 98 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: disturbing violent and sexual content
- Last updated: October 8, 2022
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