Miller displays somewhat of an aptitude when it comes to writing violence and suspense, but the actor's first outing as a screenwriter weighs down on the movie like a child being buried alive under an insurmountable amount of dirt. The actor-writer touches on the human psyche, for a longing towards connection and love, but doesn't quite delve into it headfirst. Despite the sweeping, beautiful shots and powerful performances by the trio of Wasikowska, Goode and Kidman, Stoker's story meanders more often than not as it opts to develop the characters and history of Charlie at an excruciating pace; the problem isn't simply that the payoff to Stoker isn't worth the 99 minutes running time, but that the narrative journey towards the end is lackluster and predictable almost in its entirety.
What Stoker lacks in terms of the narrative oomph familiar to the previous works of Park Chan-wook, it makes up with everything else from the director's constant collaborator, the cinematographer Chung-hoon Chung, and the score by the talented Clint Mansell. Stoker is without a shadow of a doubt an atmospheric piece of cinema, both self-indulging and aesthetically beautiful under Park Chan-wook's direction and cinematography by the eyes behind Oldboy (2003), Sympathy for Lady Vengeance (2005) and Thirst (2009). But as Jupiter Ascending recently proved, being pretty isn't enough for a movie to maintain longevity, or even to achieve acclaim. The takeaway for the audience is little, while for Miller, it gives him a shot at refining his writing, and for Park Chan-wook to not abandon the potential that comes from directing another tale in the English language.