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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Stepfather Review
THE STEPFATHER

STARRING: Dylan Walsh, Penn Badgley, Amber Heard, Sela Ward, Sherry Stringfield, Jon Tenney, Paige Turco and Jessalyn Gilsig

WRITTEN BY: J.S. Cardone, Donald E. Westlake, Carolyn Lefcourt and Brian Garfield

DIRECTED BY: Nelson McCormick

Rated: PG - 13
Genre: Horror / Thriller
Release Date: 16 October...
Published on December 17, 2009 by Craig Whittle

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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pointless remake, badly executed
I hate to start a review with an admission of guilt, but I have to admit that I agreed to see a bargain showing of THE STEPFATHER to placate my bored daughter without any expectations that the film would be decent. So I didn't exactly have an open mind. Sadly, the film did NOTHING to change the mind I had almost made up in advance.

The 1987 original was, in...
Published on December 31, 2009 by RMurray847


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25 of 30 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Pointless remake, badly executed, December 31, 2009
By 
RMurray847 (Albuquerque, NM United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Stepfather (DVD)
I hate to start a review with an admission of guilt, but I have to admit that I agreed to see a bargain showing of THE STEPFATHER to placate my bored daughter without any expectations that the film would be decent. So I didn't exactly have an open mind. Sadly, the film did NOTHING to change the mind I had almost made up in advance.

The 1987 original was, in its day, a creepy success. Terry O'Quinn (John Locke on LOST) was a calm, cool & collected psycho killer whose friendly demeanor could shut off in split second and become icy deadness. The basic story is similar in the two movies. The stepfather ingratiates himself into a family where the mother is feeling alone and in need of male companionship, and thus, may overlook a few strange moments in her new beau. There are kids already in place, and their new stepfather works hard to win them over...but they pick up on the fact that a lot of it is fake emotion. When the kids inevitably "disappoint" their new dad, bloody hell takes over and the family is killed, and "dad" moves on to another family.

In the original, the stepfather actually was always juggling two families. He already knew that one would inevitably disappoint him and he'd need another household to move to. When you think about it, this IS pretty creepy...he knows it's just a matter of time before he has to kill everyone, so why not have another family readily at hand. In the remake, the stepfather (Dylan Walsh, from NIP/TUCK) just goes from one to another...as though he thinks each family will be THE ONE.

The story is pretty predictable and familiar (and I bet if I looked back at 1987's film again, it would seem pretty tame...although I doubt the power of O'Quinn's performance will have diminished). New guy moves in and little details about him just don't seem right. Kids grow suspicious, but the newly married mother is oblivious or in denial. As the puzzle comes together, dad becomes more unhinged and all this leads to a final, bloody confrontation. A story as neatly laid out as this requires credible acting and a good pace and good editing sense to have a chance of giving us the creeps we need to feel. The new STEPFATHER doesn't measure up at all.

Walsh is an acceptable choice as the lead character. In NIP/TUCK, Walsh's character Sean is always the guy who on the surface seems like the nice, understanding, decent counterpart to his hedonistic partner, but often behaves just as stupidly. You could argue that he hasn't strayed all that far afield in THE STEPFATHER, but the role of the nice guy with a dark heart fits him. He doesn't do anything spectacular with the role, but he is acceptable. Sela Ward, always a solid if unspectacular actress, plays his new wife...and she's solid but unspectacular. Her dialogue, when she's defending her new man, is hardly of help to her. It's of the "Why can't everyone just be happy for me?" ilk.

So, two crucial characters are in place, and they are okay, particularly for an unambitious, low-budget genre film. But then we've got Penn Badgley and Amber Heard (PINEAPPLE EXPRESS) as the "kids." Each actor is about 23, but supposedly of high school age. Neither looks remotely that young. Badgley is the troubled son who has just come back for the summer from military school. He's sullen and vaguely unhappy, but never convinces as a kid that was bad enough to be sent away. He's mostly petulant, and, frankly, a bad actor. Heard is his long-time girlfriend, and it is apparently her lifelong ambition to strut around in front of her marginally interested boyfriend in a skimpy bikini. I felt somewhat bad for her...she's supposed to be the "rock" that keeps her boyfriend steady and grounded, and she's constantly giving him advice...but it's always in her bikini. Heard is not up to the task, so she comes across as an airhead who is reading lines. And the bikini seems even more out of place, because even though the two are ALWAYS hanging around the backyard pool, the film is lit in such a way that it always feel vaguely overcast and cold outside...I was always thinking she would be covered in goosebumps. It's these two characters who are supposed to finally put two-and-two together about the new man in their lives...but they seem so bland and vacuous that I never believed a single thing either of them said or did on screen. And if you dislike these characters, it's really tough to give a darn about what happens to them.

Also, the movie is PG-13, and this doesn't help. Walsh commits several violent acts, but we always cut away tastefully before we see much of anything, and while I don't need to wallow in gratuitous violence, not seeing ANYTHING really happen never really allows us to fear this guy. For goodness sake, he kills a little old lady from across the street, and we don't feel a thing.

There are occasional amusing elements, such as watching Walsh come up with excuses not to provide a social security number to his new employer...but when the climactic confrontations come, they are bland and unexciting. The movie spends a lot of time leading up to the final you-know-what hitting the fan, but when it does, all we can do is shrug "so what."

There was no really good reason to remake THE STEPFATHER. But having decided to, the filmmakers put very little effort into it. It's as though they decided that marketing should do all the work for them...they didn't actually need to make a good film. And they at least succeeded in that.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Really Stupid Movie, August 21, 2013
By 
Aimee Rogers (Norman, Oklahoma United States) - See all my reviews
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This movie was just incredibly predictable. It was a horror movie, but I was never scared, and there was no mystery. The actors were very good, but they had a poor script with which to work.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars No original but fun on blu ray, November 11, 2011
By 
barry (Boston, MA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Stepfather (DVD)
The original film THE STEPFATHER was a great little suspense film that became a huge cult classic and is at the top of the list of the career of star Terry O'Quinn. The story of a family where the mother remarries and the guy ends up becoming a psychotic killer had so many chills and thrills. Everything about it just worked. Here we have a remake of that film. There are a lot of terrible reviews here and if comparing it to the original they are indeed justified. But it can be looked at for its own merits. It's like a grade B thriller and Dylan Walsh does a pretty good job as the creepy stepfather. Certainly no O'Quinn but still good. Sela Ward adds a certain intelligent naivite to the mother and is fine. The true star of this film though is Penn Badgley as the suspicious son. It was a suspicious daughter in the original and the switch up works. The way the film is directed pretty much shows that a film of the caliber of the original wasn't really being looked for. Emphasis is on Badgley and his girlfriend. The house has a pool and both stars are attractive and we get lots of bathing suit scenes. Definitelty B horror level stuff.

But there is some suspense and surprises. If you like any of the stars you will like the film. The blu ray has excelent video with strong crispness and clarity. Colors are strong and pop with flesh tones very realistic. Black/white ration is also good. Audio works well too with dialogue strong and present and surround speakers put to good use for the chills and suspense. I am a huge fan of the original and am looking at this film for what it is. And as a light suspense film with likable stars and excellent presentation on blu ray I can recommend it. Just know what you are getting. And if you are a fan of Ward, Walsh or Penn Badgley you will enjoy passing the 90 minutes.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars KILLIN DYLAN, February 27, 2010
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This review is from: The Stepfather (DVD)
Was a remake of the 1987 cult classic really necessary? Not really. Is Dylan Walsh better than Terry O'Quinn? Not really. Is this a bad movie? Not really. Walsh is a good actor and can be quite creepy as the psycho dad from hell. Sela Ward and Jon Tenney are as always strong in support. I wasn't impressed with Penn Badgely..obvious eye candy for the teen audience. I found myself caught up in its predictable plot so it's not all that bad.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Somewhat Interesting -, August 4, 2011
This review is from: The Stepfather (DVD)
'The Stepfather' plot is quite predictable, though interesting enough to keep one's attention throughout the movie. It opens with the 'bad guy' getting dressed, then eating breakfast and stepping over the bodies of his recently murdered family. Then it's off to a new town and a new life. He meets a divorcee, moves in with her, and dodges any activities that might identify him. His stepson, however, is suspicious, as well as his fiance's sister and the former husband. Meanwhile, a neighbor sees a TV show featuring his prior crimes and becomes suspicious as well. Eventually their concerns bring confrontations, and the deaths of the former husband, neighbor, and fiance's sister. Finally the stepson finds his father's body in the basement freezer, and the bloody conclusion is on. The really bad news is that, though wounded, he escapes to repeat the horror again.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Lessons Learned for Enhancing Charisma, February 25, 2010
This review is from: The Stepfather (DVD)
"The Stepfather" is a psycho-drama where you don't need Michael Myers or Jason Vorhees to be your worst nightmare. It's the nice looking, Kurt Rusell-esque guy next door to be concerned about. In this instance, "The Stepfather" has a few things going to exemplify the weaknesses of human nature. For one, David Harris (Dylan Walsh) is invited into these homes by women who are attractive, single and operate as the primary parent. But what does he do to enamor himself with these ladies? Charisma and charm can be used for good and evil, but you decide your own case. David does a few things that speak to the voids in the women he entangles in his web. David:

--Finds attractive, single mothers shopping in stores with their children and engages them by being open and vulnerable ("My wife and daughter were killed in a car accident...I'm new in town and don't know my way around.")

--Targets attractive women with children, because an attractive, eligible, and tolerant man to bring into their world might initially be challenging. David makes himself available.

--Plays it cool. David isn't stressed and seems indifferent to what the women might do. But, because he's figured out their psychodynamics, he feels confident he can predict what they're inclined to do, which is to invite him into their lives.

---Interacts well with the children. To get the cow express interest in her calf! If David demonstrates he is father material, the women can quickly envision him being an addition to a newly formed family. They get a new mate and the children get a new father.

All in all, "The Stepfather" is instructional for illustrating the precepts to getting one's feet in the door to any opportunity, whether it's finding a new love or exploring new job opportunities.

I recommend "The Stepfather" for these "Take aways" alone.

Edward Brown
Core Edge Image & Charisma Institute
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars The Stepfather, March 13, 2010
This review is from: The Stepfather (DVD)
THE STEPFATHER goes along the safest, most teen-friendly route in remaking the 1987 cult classic. While the original did not rely on blood and gore to win over the audience, the implied violence and terrifying performance by Terry O'Quinn left audiences stunned. Dylan Walsh brings a good amount of intensity to his interpretation of the character, but as a whole, the film proves to be a flaccid and unnecessary attempt. David is a mild mannered salesman that is marrying in to a broken family with three kids, but as his fiance's ex-husband, the neighbors, and his co-workers begin growing suspicious of his shrouded past, he must go to any length to protect his dark secrets. The most noticeable misstep in this version is the family size. The film introduces three children into the storyline, but only develops the eldest son while the other two are absent in nearly the entire picture. For whatever reason, the filmmakers must not have found Walsh's performance to be dramatic enough, as the script relies on countless false scares using all of the cheapest tactics and music cues to try to drum up audience reactions. The filming is cold and sterile, which reflects David's despondent existence, but also cuts out any emotional response in the viewing. THE STEPFATHER is just another bland walk down an all too familiar path, and it only goes to prove that the original should have been left untouched.

-Carl Manes
I Like Horror Movies
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Old vs. New, February 27, 2010
By 
Terri (San Jose, CA) - See all my reviews
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Okay, I saw the original ages ago and loved it! When I found out there was a remake I decided to rent the old version and watch it again to see if it was as good as I'd remembered it to be and it was. It was chilling and suspenseful. Terry O'Quinn was fantastic in the role of the stepfather. The original moved along quickly but it was thorough from beginning to end. The stepfather was a methodic, homocidal lunatic - instantly evident from the eery opening scene of him cheerfully whistlng a tune as he non-chalantly leaves the bloody bodies of his family strewn all over the house, on his way to start a new life and find a new family. We get a sense of a very disturbed childhood when we find him losing touch with reality during an angry outburst while he is alone in his basement... the movie was just really well done. There were many little moments that spoke volumes in the original and, unfortunately, they were left out of the new version or altered in a way that made them less effective.

The new version was... well, it was okay. The acting, the plot and character changes. It was all okay but this movie didn't really need to be remade. It felt a little stale or sedate in comparison to the original movie. The original is far superior and still worth watching. This one will be okay if you haven't seen the original or if you want a mildly entertaining, light thriller.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Stepfather Review, December 17, 2009
By 
This review is from: The Stepfather [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
THE STEPFATHER

STARRING: Dylan Walsh, Penn Badgley, Amber Heard, Sela Ward, Sherry Stringfield, Jon Tenney, Paige Turco and Jessalyn Gilsig

WRITTEN BY: J.S. Cardone, Donald E. Westlake, Carolyn Lefcourt and Brian Garfield

DIRECTED BY: Nelson McCormick

Rated: PG - 13
Genre: Horror / Thriller
Release Date: 16 October 2009

I'll admit that as a fan of the original 1987 version of The Stepfather, I was slightly concerned for the remake when I learned that Dylan Walsh was playing the evil daddy. I'm a huge fan of the show Nip/Tuck on which he plays a real softy. He is such a likeable and sweet guy on the show that I had serious doubts if he would be able to pull of such a nasty role as this. Well just as Heath Ledger surprised all of us in The Dark Knight, Walsh did the same for me here.

His portrayal of David Harris is one of the best performances I have seen from anyone this year. I think what worked so well for me was that he is not at all a creepy looking guy. He is very charming and kind-spirited, so when he gets into this particular character who is a very sinister individual, it really bothers you. How could a guy like this have such a Norman Bates like quality to him?

I think my favorite portion of the film was the first five minutes. You have no idea what the hell is going on. You just see this guy shaving in the mirror and staring at himself oddly. Then he dies his hair. You know something is up but you don't know what exactly. Then he gets dressed and goes downstairs and helps himself to some peanut buttered-toast and coffee. As far as he is concerned, everything is fine. But we know better; the director makes sure of it.

Then out of nowhere we see a child sprawled over the kitchen table; dead, in the middle of breakfast. We know that he is aware of the dead body and yet he continues to act as if nothing is the matter. Now we are creped out. Next he walks around the house preparing to leave and we see other dead bodies. He steps around them as if they were a child's toy or a sleeping dog in his path and it really gets under your skin; especially the way he looks at them, no doubt envisioning how he killed them earlier. It's not very gory, but it's unsettling. Then he turns up the AC and leaves.

I generally despise PG - 13 horror films. They are typically watered down and aimed at junior high school kids with an early bed time. They are very frustrating and disappointing. This is the best one I have seen in years; right up there with The Ring and The Grudge.

I'm not saying it's better than the original, but it's just as good. It's as different from the earlier version as Scream is from Psycho. You get more gore in the first film for sure but you get more wit and suspense out of this one. I'm glad that both films exist.

We learn that David has a history of doing this. The authorities are onto him but don't know exactly who he is. He moves away to a small town in Oregon, changes his identity completely, and looks for a new potential family.

He is very much into having a family, despite the fact that something clearly didn't work out so well with the last one he had.

He meets Susan Harding (Sela Ward) and her small children, casually in a grocery store and the two of them hit it off right away. We flash forward to sometime in the future and learn that they are to be married, are now living together and that Susan has an older son who's about to come back into the picture. He was sent away to a Military reform school for his poor behavior.

Penn Badgley plays Susan's son Michael. Michael is suspicious of David from the get-go and I suspect David gathered this and made a quick effort to win Michael over. At their first meeting he takes Michael downstairs and offers him a drink of liquor from his secret stash and asks him not to tell his mother. David's liquor cabinet in the basement is only one of his many locked compartments which we soon learn the contents of.

Everything is all hunky-dory for a while and then people outside of the family begin to grow suspicious of David; like the old lady across the street that recognizes him from the news and then winds up dead.

Soon enough David's charm starts to wear off and Michael is no longer too fond of him. He seems to be the only one noticing all of the eerie things going on with David. He begins to become infatuated with learning who David is and where he comes from, as things that David has told him about his past, start to not add up.

One of the things that really creeped me out was how David was so interested in what Michael and his girlfriend Kelly (Amber Heard) are doing when no one is around. David is fine with sharing some alcohol with Michael but the thought of his new step-son having sexual relations under hiss roof seems to really get to David.

There is a very well acted scene between David and Kelly alone in the kitchen while Michael is out in the pool. Now Kelly too starts to see that there may be something off with David. I wish that they would have gone a little further with it, but it was still nice.

Eventually David starts to catch on that Michael may be onto him and things start to really heat up. Like I said, the film isn't that gory with its PG - 13 rating; but it's a lot like a Hitchcock film where suspense rather than blood pumps through its veins. And David does some very sick and shocking things.

The climax was very entertaining and Walsh's performance near the end only became more astonishing. He's a much underrated actor and is in definite justification to receive more lead roles of this stature.

Perhaps what kept the film from being better were the other characters and the actors that played them. The actors weren't bad but they weren't great either. David's character was so well developed; I felt that the other people in the story could have used some attention as well.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars NOT AS ORIGINAL/80S EFFECT BUT THIS REMAKE FORGETFUL QUICK!!, March 5, 2010
By 
Benjamin Kidman (Hayward,CA United States) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: The Stepfather [Blu-ray] (Blu-ray)
Most horror fans dread the inevitable PG-13 remake of their beloved horror classics, and understandably so. The PG-13 editions are frequently watered down, family-lite versions of their superior R-rated predecessors. But take the case of 1987's The Stepfather, a slow, dark, sleepy drama about the conflict between a 16-year-old girl and her new stepfather, a murderous sociopath who preys on families. Even with its gruesome premise, the original was not really a horror film. It wasn't even that suspenseful. There were only two onscreen deaths, and not a whole hell of a lot of tension to speak of. Some haters might disagree, but this reboot actually improves on its predecessor. As the new father figure, Dylan Walsh really ups the ante. His creepy, passive/aggressive affability really gets under your skin. Penn Badgely from Gossip Girl is the son who's just returned from military school. Amber Heard (All the Girls Love Mandy Lane, Zombieland) plays his supremely irritating girlfriend whose only saving grace is that she spends 90% of her screen time in a bikini. The Stepfather is by no means a perfect film, but if you're into breezy escapism like Disturbia or The Hand That Rocks the Cradle, it can definitely work its magic if the timing is right! C
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The Stepfather
The Stepfather by Penn Badgley (DVD - 2010)
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