In his spare time he tells stories to local children about the war, continues writing his manuscript about Russian persecution of the Yakuts and engages in small talk with his former army comrades (now local gangsters) who use his furnace as an opportune way to discard inconvenient corpses. However, just like in the story he's composing about oppression and enforced 'Russiafication', a time must come when The Stoker must take a stand and rise up out of his meagre stature.
Balabanov, with his eccentric style would have to be one of the most pioneering of Russian directors and The Stoker is a prime example of this new burgeoning direction in Russian Cinema that tackles all strata of Russian society with a savagely sardonic wit and cynicism. Ostensibly a Eastern European Stig of the Dump, The Stoker combines the stilted jet black comedy of Jim Jarmusch and Aki Kaurismaki with a decisively Russian sensibility, to create a fascinating deconstruction of post-Soviet society that entices the viewer into its morbidly violent world through a divisive soundtrack that needs to be heard to be believed.
Much like in Balabanov's Me Too (Ya tozhe khochu, 2012), the use of non-diegetic sound here to accompany stark poverty and degradation creates a paradoxical ambiance of despair and delight. It would be fair to question such a contrasting feel to an otherwise gritty piece of social commentary yet ultimately this cynically upbeat energy only amplifies the futility of the actions which unravel. Enhances further by some delightful performances meticulously choreographed against an exquisitely framed snow capped location, The Stoker is a disturbing and hard-hitting comedy that's far more fun than it really should be.