Park Chan-Wook, acclaimed director of the Vengenace trilogy, makes his English language debut with this American Gothic psychological thriller.

It is India Stoker's (Mia Wasikowska) 18th birthday when her father dies, at the wake her mother (Nicole Kidman) introduces her to her uncle Charles (Matthew Goode) who proceeds to stay in their home, causing suspicion and tension as India tries to discern his motives.

A simple set-up rife with predatory tension and dotted with enough hints and allusions to set the mind wandering, there's an eerie, discordant menace to at least half of this somewhat frustrating picture.  Chan-Wook eeks out a certain malevolent joy in toying with expectations, deliberating over-egging the drama between these three undoubtedly dysfunctional people trapped within the creaky confines of an out-of-time manor house.

Wasikowska does a fine job as the darkly innocent outsider who never really bonded with her mother, played with just the right amount of cracked Stepford-melodrama by a fraying Kidman.  Goode meanwhile uses his stiff theatrical manner to seductive effect, creating an oozing charm that relishes his control over the unsteady relationship between the two women.

Unfortunately, whilst the cast and director are giving it their all the film comes up short in the screenplay which sets its plates spinning with very little idea with what to do with them once they're in motion.  Indeed, the conclusions are all the more infuriating considering the effectiveness with which they're set-up.

Early scenes employ skewed editing and inventive cinematography to disorientate the viewer and plant delightfully macabre suggestions in the mind, but once the film gets bogged down in unknotting all its twists the reveals are sorely lacking in bite.  In fact, the film turns out to be a pretty bog-standard affair devoid of the sultry near-supernatural allure of its early incidents.

Still, Chan-Wook has made a reasonably assured English-language debut, managing to, at the very least, keep eagerly tugging the viewer along, and whilst hopes are not founded, it is a flirtatious, dark and occasionally blackly comic ride at times.