Thursday, October 29, 2009

The Stepfather


While shopping for groceries Susan meets David, a good-looking, charming man who briefly flirts with her. Later in the parking lot they have a “chance” meeting and Susan reveals that she is newly divorced and is the mother of two boys. David notes that his wife and daughter died in a car accident a year prior. Fast forward 6 months and the two are engaged and living together. Susan’s eldest son, Michael, who has just returned from military school, cautions her about rushing into this relationship but she ignores his concerns. At first David seems like a great guy usurping the father figure role and playing it to the hilt. Over time, however, Michael begins to suspect that something is not quite right. First of all, David keeps a huge storage locker padlocked in the basement and freaks out if anyone goes near it (!) More importantly a background check suggests that David has been lying about pretty much everything (!!). Unfortunately Susan continues to ignore Michael’s concerns despite overwhelming evidence that David is a weirdo (!!!). By the time David reveals his true nature the horrified family finds themselves in a battle for their lives.

"Where have I seen him before?"

If you’ve seen the original Stepfather films you know that David’s sociopathy is driven by a desire to have the “perfect” family and when he can’t attain this impossible goal he kills everyone and starts over. This seemingly crucial bit of information is so understated in the remake that I’m not even certain that it’s stated at all - perhaps I’m simply recalling the 80s films? Although the original Stepfather films were just dumb, stupid fun, the remake gets bogged down with a b-plot involving eldest son, Michael. It’s established early that he’s some sort of a problematic fuck-up and he’s been away at military school for a long time – being allowed to come home is a “test” to see if he can behave. The problem with this set-up is that the kid seems perfectly nice throughout the film. Not once do you ever believe that he’s been a source of tension in the household. The film wastes a lot of precious minutes on the son’s relationship with his girlfriend, who spends most of the film clad only in a bikini or her underwear (yay! I mean, yawn). The main story only becomes interesting in the final act when David finally unravels. The climax is a bit too little too late and ultimately underwhelming (no pipe in the ass here).

Get back to the horror already


50PageMcGee said...

so when he finds the perfect family that means feature-length adaptation of the Donna Reed show?

Octopunk said...

Oh well. I recall really liking the first one with John Locke as the title character. Never saw the sequels.

Nice dissection, JPX.

Johnny Sweatpants said...

I agree with 8-Punks. Your reviews just keep getting better and funnier. I've never seen any of the Stepfather movies (there's more than one?)