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5 Films to Watch Before Seeing Park Chan-wook’s ‘Stoker’

Written by on February 28, 2013 

In just a few days South Korea’s Park Chan-wook will finally make his warped mark on US audiences with his disturbing family drama Stoker. But before his Hollywood debut shuffles into limited release, we’ve rounded up a few films that would make for a beneficial watch before heading into theaters. Including coming-of-age tales in a similar vein, the most dysfunctional of families  and a refresher on the director’s backlog, most readers will have plenty of time to catch up as the film expands throughout the month. Check out the rundown below and read our review of Stoker from Sundance Film Festival.

Carrie (Brian De Palma, 1976)

In adapting Stephen King‘s debut novel, Brian De Palma abandoned a disjointed, epistolary structure to craft an experience that could only be deemed his own. I think this, alone, is enough to make Carrie worthy of full time and due consideration, but there’s more humanity than almost anything he made thereafter: a psychological probing that, at once, isn’t afraid to have some fun with itself — not unlike Park Chan-wook‘s latest. Most importantly, the fact notwithstanding that certain period elements date it in one way or the other, a central conflict in Carrie is sadly one that can resonate with many viewers today. (Someone figured this out and decided a remake would be a good idea.) The De Palma touches, dizzying and dazzling, are what elevate this to an authentic blend of pathos and scares, a perfect primer for Stoker. – Nick N.

Dogtooth (Giorgos Lanthimos, 2009)

This scarring film, which put Greek writer-director Giorgos Lanthimos on most people’s international-cinema radar (and even led to an unexpected Oscar nomination for Best Foreign Language Film), shares a couple of on-paper similarities with Stoker: both are skewed coming-of-age tales about a girl growing up in a dysfunctional family, and both explore the notion of an outsider force of sorts (a prostitute in Dogtooth, Matthew Goode in Stoker) corrupting and invading a family unit’s domestic sphere. There are, too, some likely points of comparison between the styles of Lanthimos and Park Chan-wook: sudden, shocking bursts of violence when you least expect them, as well as recurring instances of morbidly-dark deadpan humor. The relationship between the two filmmakers is even interesting in terms of how they differ: while Lanthimos’s sequences are often mounted with a crafty minimalism, Park has consistently shown that he’s never afraid to implement a go-for-broke maximalism. – Danny K.

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