"The Stepfather": DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review (2010)

2/12/2010 Posted by Admin

DVD, Blu-ray Movie Review

"The Stepfather"

By our guest blogger, Jeremy Wilkinson

This reviewer has not seen the 1987 version of "The Stepfather," so this review was written without preference for the original. That being said, the 2009 remake of the movie was a bomb--almost completely devoid of anything resembling “horror.”

The movie starts out on a strong note. The eponymous stepfather (Dylan Walsh) is shown shaving and showering before nonchalantly leaving a home full of corpses.  Sounds promising, but hopes are quickly dashed as the movie then turns into a paint-by-numbers horror film that fails to deliver any real fear.

The stepfather, now living under the alias David Harris, meets Susan Harding (Sela Ward) and they start a whirlwind romance. Susan’s son, Michael (Penn Badgley), returns from military school after she gets engaged to David. David tries to warm up to Michael, but Michael isn’t ready to trust the man yet. When odd occurrences happen around David, Michael becomes suspicious that David may not be who he says he is.

The acting in this movie is horrible. All of the characters are so bland, it’s hard to care about them. They also consistently choose to make poor decisions, apparently lacking even the most basic abilities of reason. The only truly likeable character in the whole movie is Susan’s sister. David is supposed to seem like ‘the perfect guy’ in places, but he lacks charm when he’s acting as such. He always seems to come off as slightly creepy, which makes one wonder why Susan is with him in the first place. If you want your villain to be a serial killer, able to insert himself into families because of his charisma, you should probably make sure the character actually has charisma.

In addition to the previous problems, David’s character is one of the flattest, uninteresting murderers to ever sneak onto the silver screen. It’s obvious he’s killed others, but the movie fails to properly explain the motivation behind his bloodlust. One of the trailers claims he’s ‘looking for the perfect family.’ That’s a little hard to get from the film because only passing references are made to this motivation. There’s so much the filmmakers could have drawn upon--the son was troubled, so he was sent away. Susan’s previous husband seems to have some anger issues. The stepfather is (supposed to be) looking for the perfect family. But, none of these issues are fully developed.

The movie tries to scare the audience by having David standing behind people when they turn around…and when they open doors or look up from swimming or are getting food. It ceases to be creepy after the second time and instead, he comes off as a mildly annoying ninja.

It was also decided (for some reason) that it would be a good idea to play foreboding music during half the movie--even when there is nothing creepy going on (such as when David is having lunch with Michael). It doesn’t seem like it’s building up to anything--it’s just there.

This movie is destined for DVD bargain bins. If you feel like you must see this movie, even out of morbid curiosity--don’t. It’s not worth your time.

Grade: F

View the trailer for "The Stepfather" below.  What are your thoughts?

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