Horror Review: 'The Stepfather'

Horror Review: ‘The Stepfather’


The Stepfather is a remake of a 1987 movie that starred Terry O’Quinn (Lost) as a deranged man looking for the perfect family. Of course, no such thing exists, and when a family doesn’t live up to his impossibly high standards, they meet a most unfortunate demise. He then disguises himself, moves to a new city, and sets up the cycle once again.

In this updated version, director Nelson McCormick (Prom Night 2008) tries to coax scares from the premise once again, but the movie too often wanders into camp (unintentionally, I’m sure).

Dylan Walsh (Nip/Tuck) steps into the stepfather shoes as David, and unfortunately, he is about as menacing as a teddy bear. I like Walsh, but I have the same problem when they try to make him do something deviant on Nip/Tuck, I just don’t buy it. That is not to say he is a bad actor, I just think they should have cast someone a little creepier. When Walsh tries to flick back and forth between normal and psycho during the movie,  it elicited more giggles than scares.

Sela Ward (stunning at 53, we should all be so lucky) plays Susan, the most clueless, desperate woman in recent memory. Freshly divorced, she meets David in a grocery store and promptly asks him out. They have a whirl-wind romance, and within six months are engaged, much to displeasure of Susan’s teen-aged son Michael (Gossip Girl’s Penn Badgely) who is home from military school.

He spends 95% of his time in the pool making out with his girlfriend Kelly (Amber Heard), who cavorts in various bikinis/her underwear the entire movie. It actually is comical.  When Kelly and Michael go into the house to snoop around in David’s belongings, they don’t even dry off, so they leave convenient wet foot steps for him to find.  A real bunch of Einsteins, this family.  In the single scene that she wears clothes, she has a half-shirt on.

Curiously, Susan doesn’t mind this at all.  She is the coolest future mother-in-law I have ever seen.  Most moms think their son’s girlfriends look like a slut if they are wearing a snow parka.  Susan is too busy fawning over her fiance to notice, I suppose.

Sherry Stringfield (ER) and Paige Turco (Damages) make a brief appearance as the most random  lesbian power-couple ever.  I don’t know if the film-makers thought they were being edgy, or if parts were cut out, but it is literally like someone threw in their scenes.  Hey, let’s add a lesbian couple to show how hip we are!

Anyway, there are clues dropped like meteorites from the get-go, but Susan can’t believe Mr. Dreamy could be a bad guy, even when people around her start dying.  She steadfastly clings to her fantasy until it is too late, and David is threatening her family.  A big showdown on a stormy night culminates in an ending that ensures sequel potential.

I saw the original Stepfather too long ago to remember clearly, but I know it was creepier.  This version relies on a lot of jump scares (cat jumping out of the darkness, anyone?). Despite this being a pretty silly movie, the crowd I saw it with seemed to really enjoy it.  There were lots of shouting to characters on the screen, and squeals of glee when David gets a little taste of his own medicine.

You could do worse, but I would save it for a rental.

  • ABCD123
    February 14, 2011 at 3:26 am

    really? I thought the lesbian comment was spot on. Just the filmmakers trying desperately to be progressive.

  • Siancidere
    December 18, 2010 at 2:23 pm

    stupidest review ever. The comment on the lesbian couple is the dumbest comment I’ve ever seen.

  • jaime
    October 20, 2009 at 1:19 am

    Now her’s was “THE” cameo in Zombieland right? or was it B.M?

  • jaime
    October 20, 2009 at 1:11 am

    Amber Heard in a Bikni that’s all i need! Who care’s if the movie’s good or not?