The 1992 direct-to-video sequel ‘Stepfather 3,’ also known as ‘Stepfather III: Father’s Day,’ is part of the horror trilogy that follows a vicious serial killer stepdad. It is directed by Guy Magar who co-wrote it with Marc B. Ray.
Gene Clifford escapes from the asylum a second time and finds a shady plastic surgeon to change his face into Keith Grant (Robert Wightman). He murders the doctor and sets up a new life in Deer View, California as a landscaper. He meets divorced school principal Christine Davis (Priscilla Barnes) and her wheelchair-bound son Andy (David Tom). Keith romances her and soon marries her, but he has trouble connecting to her son, who is an amateur detective who suspects his new stepdad is sinister after witnessing his anger. Their parish priest Father Ernest Brennan (John Ingle) tries to discourage the young boy, but after witnessing Keith seducing another single mom Jennifer (Season Hubley), he develops suspicions as well. Keith, meanwhile, will do whatever it takes to preserve his family, including continuing his murderous ways.
Both the first film in the franchise and the second film tried to maintain a sense of terror and while this one does try, it is clear that only the original was able to hold onto that design. While this third entry does try to bring the chills, but it was a failure on all fronts.
The talent in the movie does a good job with the writing, however, Robert Wightman was never quite convincing as the deadly stranger. At times, he came off as wooden, especially when he was trying to maintain his facade. Priscilla Barnes and David Tom do decent jobs with their roles, but they still felt like cutouts.
Apart from the other issues, the movie suffers from two contradictory problems. The first one is an attempt to insert hip nineties themes into the story, such as Andy’s obsession with using computers and using them to try to solve the mystery of his stepfather. However, it also clings to that sort of eighties slasher vibe, with lots of drama, gore, and death, but little substance. This took away from the tone of the movie and made it seem benign.
Bottom line, Stepfather III: Father’s Day is the weakest of the trilogy. It lacks the realism, talent, and themes of living with a stranger of the original cult classic. It is, quite frankly, a dud that was trying to riff off its predecessors.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Bloody violence, Foul language, Sexual content
FAVORITE QUOTE: Happy Father’s Day, slugger.
Check out the trailer below:
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