Stoker (Movie) Ending Explained: Why Did India Kill Charlie?

This post includes a brief plot summary and an explanation about the ending of the film Stoker (2013). Why did India kill Charlie?

Directed by Chan Park-wook, the 2013 psychological thriller stars Mia Wasikowska as India Stoker, Matthew Goode as Charlie Stoker and Nicole Kidman as Evelyn Stoker. Beware of spoilers.

stoker 2013 ending explained

Stoker tells the story of a girl (India Stoker) who has recently lost her father (Richard Stoker) in a car accident. At his funeral, India meets, for the very first time, her uncle, Charlie Stoker. Apparently, he has been travelling around the world, hence the reason they haven’t met yet. Charlie’s charming persona leads Evelyn (India’s mother) to invite him to live with them.

What Is Going in “Stoker”? (Plot Explained)

During Charlie’s stay, two people disappear. First, the housekeeper (Mrs. McGarrick) disappears without notice. Then, another family member (aunt Gwendolyn) who was just passing by, goes missing too.

It turns out that there is more to Charlie Stoker than meets the eye. The man is the culprit behind Mrs. McGarrick and aunt Gwendolyn’s mysterious disappearances, India’s uncle murdered them in cold blood. Then, Charlie proceeds to make another victim, Whip, India’s classmate.

When India was trying to evade the sight of Evelyn and Charlie together, she ran into Whip in the woods. What seemed like an innocent encounter later turns into a nightmare for India when Whip tries to sexually assault her. That’s when Charlie stepped in and strangled the boy to death with his belt. Whip’s death brings Charlie and India closer.

While organizing her father’s belongings, India finds the letters that Charlie has been writing to her over the years. Although the finding brings India to tears, she comes to an even more chilling realization: her uncle has been writing to her from a mental institution.

Plot Twist: Charlie is not the avid world traveller that he claimed to be. At a very young age, Charlie killed his younger brother Jonathan out of jealousy. After the tragedy, the Stokers sent Charlie to a mental institution, where he spent most of his life. When the doctors discharged Charlie, Richard went to pick him up. The latter told Charlie to stay away from his family. Out of rage, Charlie beat Richard to death and staged a car accident.

The moment India sees Charlie wearing Richard’s sunglasses, she realizes that her uncle killed her father. As a result, India threatens Charlie and tells him to leave the house. He tries to brush the situation off with his latest gift to India: a pair of stiletto heels. Meanwhile, Sheriff Howard stops by the Stokers to ask questions about Whip’s disappearance. Charlie covers India by giving her a false alibi.

Charlie decides to leave town and asks India to move with him to New York. Meanwhile, Evelyn catches her daughter and Charlie in an intimate moment. She excuses herself and leaves. During a mother-daughter talk, Evelyn expresses her desire to watch India suffer.

After talking to India, Evelyn summons Charlie to her room. She knows the truth behind her brother-in-law’s past and Richard’s death. Then Charlie leans closer and tries to strangle Evelyn to death with his belt. However, India stops him by shooting him dead with a rifle.

The Ending of “Stoker” Explained

The ending of “Stoker” shows India burying her uncle in the backyard and leaving with Charlie’s car. While driving away from home, India encounters Sheriff Howard, who tells her to pull over. The man asks India why she was speeding, and she answers “to catch his attention”. When he leans closer, India stabs him with a pair of pruning shears. Then she leaves the car, only to finally shoot him with her rifle.

What is the meaning behind the ending of “Stoker”? The ending of “Stoker” means that India has fully transitioned to adulthood. She has finally found her own identity. At the beginning of Stoker, India was still on a self-discovery journey. Although Charlie helped her see who she really is, India has no plans to become like her uncle. She rather enjoys being herself.

stoker 2013 charlie and india

The Significance of Shoes in “Stoker”

It’s no coincidence that there are several shots focusing on India’s shoes, both the saddle shoes and the pair of stilettos at the end. They represent the different stages of India’s life. The saddle shoes are a symbol of innocence and an untainted existence. Whereas the stiletto heels represent India’s coming-of-age along with her sexual awakening.

Up until meeting Charlie, India had only worn saddle shoes. She has seventeen pairs of them, one for each year of her life. Even though the other sixteen pairs don’t fit her feet any more, India kept them because she thought they were a gift from her father. Later, she finds out that they were actually a gift from uncle Charlie. For her eighteenth birthday, India’s uncle gives her a pair of stiletto heels. Everything comes full circle when she later shoots Charlie dead while wearing them.

Why Did India Kill Charlie?

Richard and India had a close relationship. As a matter of fact, Richard was the only person who really cared for India. Having said that, India wasn’t going to just let it go. How could she ever forgive Charlie for murdering her father? Having said that, when India shot Charlie, it was payback for what he did to her father.

India was just playing along the entire time. The girl was waiting for the right moment to kill her prey, just like Richard taught India during their hunting trips. In addition, India realizes that what Charlie feels for her is not love. Charlie sees his niece as an extension of himself. Having said that, India’s uncle wants her to be exactly like him. However, India is her own person, and she has no plans to let Charlie dictate who she is or can be. That’s why she shot him.

Charlie had to go because he murdered India’s father. Now what did the sheriff do to her? Charlie had a quick death, but the sheriff wasn’t so lucky. First, India used pruning shears, and then she shot the sheriff (presumably dead) with her rifle.

Why Did India Kill The Sheriff?

India could’ve left town quietly, so why did she decide to kill Sheriff Howard? In very simple terms, India wanted to get away with murder. In order to do that, the girl needed to cut off all loose ends. Something that we’ve seen Charlie doing throughout the film…

The sheriff was already suspicious of India and Charlie. When the man was asking questions about Whip in the Stokers house, he got the impression that both uncle and niece were hiding something. Therefore, even if India left town, Sheriff Howard would very likely continue looking for her. Having said that, killing the sheriff was India’s ticket to freedom.


Stoker (2013) [DVD]


Final Thoughts

Two words to describe this dark coming-of-age tale directed by Park Chan-wook? Beautiful and disturbing. Let’s just say that Stoker is not one of those films that you would want to watch with your parents or kids.

At first sight, Charlie seems to be a mysterious and charming man, but let’s be honest, you would’ve used the word “creepy” if he wasn’t so good-looking. By the way, kudos to the director for choosing a really attractive actor to play the role of uncle Charlie.

The Stokers are a pretty dysfunctional family: the daughter, the uncle, and the mother. The only sane person in that family (Richard) sadly died in a very tragic manner.

So, who is the most disturbing character in Stoker? Although Charlie is a pretty strong contender, Evelyn is the one who actually wins the race. But why? Here’s the thing, Evelyn might not have any dead bodies under her belt (no pun intended), but she does have a very disturbed mind.

First, Evelyn detests her own daughter and desires India to suffer. Second, this woman has no morals: her husband just died, and she already has her eyes set on another man, who happens to be her brother-in-law. Third, Evelyn doesn’t care about anyone but herself. This woman chose to be jealous of her own daughter instead of protecting her from a murderer.

By the way, when Evelyn called Charlie to her room, it was clear that she’s not as oblivious as she appears to be. Evelyn knows about Charlie’s past and the truth behind Richard’s death. However, how unsettling is this information? I mean, why would you let a murderer live in your own house? But then Evelyn confesses, it’s because of Charlie’s attractive looks. I get it, but Evelyn is still a terrible person. India deserved a better mother.

Overall, Stoker is a very interesting study of people and their darkest desires. As I said before, the film is creepy, but in a good way because it challenges the viewer’s personal biases. Stoker is definitely a very noteworthy watch with incredible performances.