‘The Stepfather‘ is a psychological thriller and a 2009 remake of the 1987 cult classic. This version is directed by Nelson McCormick and written by J.S. Cardone. It is the final entry into the horror series.
Grady Edwards (Dylan Walsh) leaves Utah after murdering his entire family and moves to Oregon where he meets divorcee Susan Harding (Sela Ward) and her two kids Sean (Braeden Lemasters) and Beth (Skyler Samuels). He introduces himself as David Harris and immediately begins to romance her, telling her his wife and son died in an accident. Six months later, Susan’s oldest son Michael (Penn Badgley) is driven home from school by his girlfriend Kelly (Amber Heard) to a surprise party where he meets David. Michael is suspicious of David but puts them aside because his mother seems happy. However, after a nosy neighbor dies after asking about David and he suddenly quits working for Susan’s sister Jackie (Paige Turco) after she asks for SSN, Michael begins to wonder if his mother’s boyfriend is something more sinister.
This movie is mediocre. It is not bad, but it is nothing to write home about either. I felt like the filmmakers were trying too hard to maintain themes from the first film, but at the same time, they were trying too hard to modernize it, giving it conflicting themes. For instance, Grady sets up a whole new identity but does not bother to make IDs. In the eighties and even the nineties, this would be possible, but this took place in 2009 when there was no way this could be avoided. It did not make a whole lot of sense.
At times, the movie does provide a genuine sense of thrills or terror, but these were interlaced by the teenaged angst of Michael and Kelly’s characters. Whereas Jill Schoelen and even Jonathan Brandis provided a lot of depth as the stepchildren, Penn Badgley never quite grows into this and just lumbers from suspicion to suspicion with his amateur hour investigation coming off more annoying than thrilling.
There were also a few plotholes that never quite get filled. Two minor, but important characters to the plot get killed by Grady, but the consequences of these deaths are just sort of left hanging with no true resolution. The biggest plothole was kind of the most obvious, Grady never becomes The Stepfather. Even the third entry makes sure this is solidified, but that might be nitpicky.
Now, I would be remiss without mentioning the performances. Everyone did a decent job with what they were given. Dylan Walsh certainly is compelling, turning up the creepiness. I will say, I do not understand why Amber Heard is there other than to just walk around in a bikini. She adds nothing to the plot other than to scream on command. It would have made more sense to have Michael interact with one of his siblings over his suspicions.
Bottom line, The Stepfather remake is a subpar horror film that lacks the cleverness of the original but does occasionally give you a good jump scare from time to time.
PARENTAL CONCERNS: Violence, Foul language, Sexual content, Gore
FAVORITE QUOTE: I thought I could make this work. But I can’t! This isn’t the right family for me. The boy is a problem. He has no respect for me. You haven’t been hard enough on him. You’ve got to make a boy understand! You’ve got to break him if necessary! You’re too weak to do that.
Check out the trailer below:
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