Park chose his project cannily: "Stoker" is a simple, straightforwardly universal gothic fable that will play across many cultures. In his introduction in Park City Sunday, Park actually called this coming-of-age story a "fairy tale." Visually and aurally, in terms of the music, sound design and editing, the movie is gorgeous. But some of the iconography is too on-the-nose: saddle shoes, spike heels, insects etc.
The actors do their best with the material, especially Nicole Kidman and Mia Wasikowska, who suddenly lose their husband and father (Dermot Mulroney) in a car accident and are both attracted to a mysterious Uncle (Matthew Goode) who materializes soon after their husband/father dies. But they don't have much to work with. The plot is all-too predictable.
It's tempting to wonder what the film would have been like with Colin Firth in the Uncle played by Goode, who makes a sexy but cardboard villain. He might have brought some depth; he may have figured out why he didn't want to do the role.
Fox Searchlight may be able to sell this high-end horror feature on its top flight elements, but I worry that's it's a 'tweener--not smart-house and not mainstream genre either. Critics may not be kind. See a Sundance sampling below.