What is it with Korean movies? Stoker

. 2 min read

What makes a movie Korean? Is it the landscape? Or the language? Or the nationalities of the actors? Or the nationality of the writer? In this case, it's none of these. The only Korean thing about Stoker is the director, Park Chan-wook. But I think he makes the movie Korean enough to be included in WIP's Korean movie week.

Stoker (2013) is a psychological thriller about a girl whose father dies on her 18th birthday and a man claiming to be his brother comes to support her and her widowed mother. He seems weird from the start. He tries to seduce both of the women. He kills random people for reasons unknown. Later it is revealed that he's been mentally unstable since childhood - a characteristic that may turn out to be hereditary.

I just checked out the movie's Wikipedia page and found out that the movie only made a hundred grand more than it cost to make - which makes it a box office flop. This seems incredible to me. The movie has a brilliant director, brilliant actors (Nicole Kidman, Matthew Goode, and Mia Wasikowska) who all do a brilliant job, and a writer who has to be good since his name is Wentworth Miller. But nevermind, the critics liked it enough. (So I'm not mad.)

The whole movie is, at its core, about family and how certain traits of character are carried in blood. It seems almost that the girl, India, has always known there was something wrong or different about her, but she doesn't know what it is, because she's never been told of her weird uncle. Only when he declares his existence by showing up at the funeral and coming to live with India and her mother, does she realize there is nothing wrong with her as an individual, but with her family - and as a part of it, she carries the curse of sorts in her blood as well. She no longer tries to fight it. She decides (actively or subconsciously) to embrace the insane part of herself, manifesting the violent behavior her uncle is also manifesting.

So, the question presents itself: are you carrying a family disease in your veins?

And I don't mean this literally - although sure, some physical illnesses are genetic - but metaphorically. Are you living out a pattern that's been present in your family in the previous generation? Are you an alcoholic because your father was? Are you violent because your mother was? Are you, subconsciously, acting out mental problems because there has been cases of mental instability in your family?

This can also be reversed: are there good qualities in your family members, parents and grandparents who share your blood, that you have adopted or should adopt to become the best you? You're allowed to think those characteristics could pass on to you, even if not physically. Because who says personality trates cannot be transmitted by observing them?