Reviewed by: Katie Thomas
“Nip/Tuck” (TV series), “Congo,” “The Lake House”
“The Fugitive,” “The Day After Tomorrow,” “The Guardian”
“John Tucker Must Die,” “The Young and the Restless” (TV series)
“Never Back Down,” “Pineapple Express,” “Zombieland”
Sherry Stringfield, Paige Turco, Jon Tenney, Nancy Linehan Charles, Marcuis Harris, Braeden Lemasters, Deirdre Lovejoy, Skyler Samuels, Blue Deckert, Jason Wiles, Kara Briola, Jessalyn Gilsig, Cathy Schenkelberg, David Guzzone, Amandah Reyne, Carmen Mormino, Todd Cosgrove, Tracey Costello, Cheryl Anderson, Pride Grinn, Sean Moran, Jack Chang, Savannah Levin, Savannah Lathem, Vitaliy Versace
|Producer||Granada Entertainment, Imprint Entertainment, Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Entertainment (SPE), J.S. Cardone, Jay Dykes, Robert O. Green, Greg Mooradian, Mark Morgan, Guy Oseary, Meredith Zamsky|
|Distributor||Screen Gems, Sony Pictures Entertainment|
“This fall Daddy’s home.”
To put it simply, the trailers make this film look much better than it is. I mistakenkt believeed that this could possibly be one as intelligent as “Mr. Brooks” or “Fracture.” Even for its genre, “The Stepfather” is sub-par.
David is a serial killer who preys on divorced or widowed women and their families. He meets Susan in a grocery store and moves in less than six months later, when her son Michael returns home from military school. The two leading men struggle with Susan’s ignorance and family tension, each protective of their own interests. Michael, along with his aunt and birth father, suspect that David is connected to the disappearance of the elderly neighbor woman when they notice some strange behavior.
The plot is predictable the whole way through, without so much as a twist or surprise ending. The script remains strong for each character, despite the fact that David’s motivation for his cycle of violence is unknown, and nothing is revealed regarding where his anger stems from. He remains one-dimensional, along with the youngest children, the girl rarely being seen. We get a strong understanding of each character, including the absent father, through actions and dialogue. It is a shame that the focal point of the film is left with so many holes.
Violence—Not to give away any plot points, but one of David’s victims is thrown down a stairway, one gagged with a plastic bag, and one drowned in a swimming pool. The climax held more suspense than blood, keeping contact at a minimum. At one point, someone is stabbed with broken glass, and a table saw is used to threaten David away. Some punching and kicking is involved with the struggle.
Language/sex/nudity—The film remains fairly clean throughout, while there were many scenes with Kelly, Michael’s girlfriend, wearing nothing but a bikini, often swimming and kissing heavily. There were only a few counts of cursing, the heaviest being about four counts of “God damn,” and some scattered, lighter profanities, such as “piss,” “screw” and the s-word.
The most offensive behavior, however, stemmed from the hearts of the characters. The film obviously revolves around the issue of lying and deceit, from minor acts such as hiding liquor in the basement, to covering up heartless murders. Child abuse is brought up in a couple of scenes, starting when David grabs Sean’s neck as discipline. Susan and Jay have a bit of bitter dialogue to show their disrespectful relationship after the divorce, and she is seen at the bar with her sisters later. Susan does not listen to reason from her sisters or her children throughout the film, and cuts them off with her excuses and misled emotions concerning the dangerous man she has brought into their lives.
As a whole, I would not recommend this film, equally as much for its content as for the mere lack of depth and overuse of clichés.
Violence: Heavy / Profanity: Mild / Sex/Nudity: Mild
See list of Relevant Issues—questions-and-answers.