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The Stepfather

2009

PG-13 CC

When a teenager returns home from military school, he begins to suspect his mother's new boyfriend is not the charming man he appears to be in this riveting, psychological thriller.

Starring:
Dylan Walsh, Sela Ward
Runtime:
1 hour, 41 minutes

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Rent Movie HD $3.99
Rent Movie SD $2.99

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Buy Movie HD $12.99
Buy Movie SD $9.99
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Product Details

Genres Thriller
Director Nelson McCormick
Starring Dylan Walsh, Sela Ward
Supporting actors Penn Badgley, Amber Heard, Sherry Stringfield, Paige Turco, Jon Tenney, Nancy Linehan Charles, Marcuis Harris, Braeden Lemasters, Deirdre Lovejoy, Skyler Samuels, Blue Deckert, Jason Wiles, Kara Ortiz, Jessalyn Gilsig, Cathy Schenkelberg, David Guzzone, Amandah Reyne, Carmen Mormino
Studio Screen Gems
MPAA rating PG-13 (Parents Strongly Cautioned)
Captions and subtitles English Details
Purchase rights Stream instantly Details
Format Amazon Video (streaming online video)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By RMurray847 VINE VOICE on December 31, 2009
Format: 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).
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Format: DVD Verified Purchase
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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Format: 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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Fairly typical story about two families, newly-united by second marriages for each, with a homocidal step-father. Not much new there.

The done-before story-line is elevated by some atmosphere and good acting, especially from exquisite Penn Badgley, the delicious anti-hero from Gossip Girl. He was the reason I found this film, which would have gone unnoticed otherwise. Aside from the welcome eye-candy he provides, he has a compelling screen presence which makes everything he does interesting to watch.

Penn's new house has a swimming pool in the back yard (hooray for California) so he appears several times lounging around in a bathing suit. Even if he couldn't act, or was not so obviously intelligent, Penn Badgley is certainly a genius from the neck down. And it's always good to see a director who knows how to use his attractive star.

The step-father in question seems to have it in for poor Penn (too handsome?), but tries to disguise it under a bland and over-polite exterior which fairly drips with 'concern' -- the dead give-away of a psychopath in a thriller. It takes plenty of nocturnal stealth and surreptitious sleuthing on Penn's part (usually in shorts and t-shirt) to uncover the older man's dreadful secret which, in one last cliche of the genre, is hidden in the basement. But therein lies the atmosphere and chills the movie provides -- apart from the very real fear that our star will not get into a bathing suit again.

Movie alone? Three stars. Extra star for Penn Badgley shirtless.
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