In Park Chan-wook’s hyperstylized Stoker, which hits Blu-ray on June 18, Mia Wasikowska plays a teenager who suspects she has inherited a certain genetic malevolence when her sociopathic uncle Charlie moves in. But the film’s own inner evil is also a hand-me-down, raided from the thematic attic of one of the best thrillers of all time: Alfred Hitchcock’s Shadow of a Doubt (1943, 1 hr., 48 mins., PG).
Hitchcock’s brilliant film (also newly available on Blu-ray) is still just as unnerving and masterful 70 years later. (EXTRAS include a recycled but informative making-of documentary.) Joseph Cotten plays the original Uncle Charlie, a suave, beloved relative living with his sister’s family until his niece (Teresa Wright) uncovers the murderous secret behind his meticulously crafted facade, which propels the movie toward its iconic final sequence aboard a train. Written by Thornton Wilder, Shadow of a Doubt is essentially what would happen if you let loose a monster in Our Town. On the surface, Cotten is the local boy made good, but he’s actually rotten to the core. Hitchcock picks at the placid surface of small-town America like a scab, imbuing each scene with deep-running undercurrents of menace. It’s subversive, nail-biting, eerie, and gorgeously shot — no wonder Hitch often cited it as his finest achievement. And as the imitative but inferior Stoker shows, it’s the kind of film that casts a long shadow. A