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Discussion Starter #1 (Edited)
Title: The Stepfather
Starring: Dylan Walsh, Sela Ward
Directed by: Nelson McCormick
Written by: J.S. Cardone, Donald E. Westlake
Studio: Columbia/Tristar Video
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of violence, disturbing images, mature thematic material and brief sensuality
Runtime: 101 min
Release date: October 19 2009


Using his charm and good looks David befriends a divorced woman, Susan, in a grocery store and within six months he has moved in and is in traction to legally become the stepfather to her three children.

Susan, primarily due to loneliness and being too trustworthy is giving David the benefit of the doubt in situations that are definitely suspicious and deserve further investigation. Her friends and even ex-husband are also leaning on her to open her eyes and put some serious thought into why David is doing what he’s doing. But as in typical movie fashion Susan is getting annoyed with all the accusations and just wants everyone to be happy for her.


The brief sensuality and mature themes relate to heavy petting and kissing, mostly between Susan’s oldest son Michael and his girlfriend. Those particular scenes never go beyond innocent kissing and in general are akin to what’s shown on primetime television.

I don’t have a problem with the rating itself, it’s just the mention of intense sequences of violence that’s inaccurate. When I think of intense violence I immediately conjure up bloody images involving people being brutally hurt or killed; like in the Saw franchise. The violence in The Stepfather is accompanied by a lot of suspense and not all that much blood. There’s a lot of physical altercations and a few scenes of actual fatal violence, but even those are mild.

Video :3.5stars:

Being categorized as a thriller it’s not a surprise that the final twenty minutes, the climax actually, takes places during a thunder and lightning storm. The sporadic illumination of scenes by lightning makes the already volatile scenes more intense and nail biting. Okay, that was a bit of an exaggeration; I was never scared or sitting on the edge of my chair, but for those with a propensity to scare easily, you might jump a few times.

But back to the video; despite many scenes being very dark, the picture was still clear, void of graininess and in most cases the characters and what they were involved in were also distinguishable.

Audio :3.5stars:

Typical increasingly high pitched notes and waves of violins adorn nearly all the scenes leading up to something important or are present throughout many vital moments.

I was surprised by that lack of actual music. The only time music with lyrics was present was when a radio was playing in the background of the scene or when the children were playing a video game.

I gather the actual soundtrack to purchase, if it exists, is pretty lackluster and not worth the money.

Extras :3.5stars:

“Open House: Making the Film”, “Visualizing the Stunts”, “Gag Reel”, and a commentary by the director Nelson McCormick and Dylan Walsh constitute the bonus material on the Blu-ray disc.

If you enjoyed the actual movie, then I think the above extras will interest you. But for those who thought the movie was mediocre, the extras are just fillers; I doubt anyone can honestly say they take interest in knowing how a fall off a roof is choreographed.

Overall :1.5stars:

I had quite a few problems with this movie. My biggest gripe was how ordinary and unoriginal every single scene felt. I honestly felt like I was watching a movie pieced together from other thrillers. Every moment meant to be scary, intense or suspenseful was cliché.

There was also a lack of consistency; I kept getting mixed signals from David. His goal was for the five of them to become a happy family and especially trust him, but during his stay he’d make intimidating gestures and speeches that undermined the trust he ultimately wanted to gain.

Just to add another item to the cons pile, the amount of times David appeared from nowhere started to become laughable. After the fifth time I made a mental bet with myself; I guessed this appearing act would top out at ten.

To conclude the only real positive aspects were the cheesy but fitting soundtrack and the video quality. As for the storyline, it was weak and boring. The characters made typical decisions that defied logic and after about an hour my attention span was becoming increasingly shorter. It was a pleasure to finally see the credits role.

Don’t waste your time and/or money on this movie, it was a real disappointment.

HTS Senior Moderator
5,423 Posts
Re: The Stepfather - Blu ray Review

Just curious, how does Dylan Walsh compare with Terry O'Quinn's 1987 version of The Stepfather?
Personally, I just don't find Dylan Walsh to be particularly threatening, mentally unstable, phychopathic etc. Terry O'Quinn on the other hand, I can buy into that. Judging by your 1.5 star rating,... I'm thinking I'll pass on this one.

127 Posts
Discussion Starter #3
Re: The Stepfather - Blu ray Review

I haven't seen the original, but I've heard that it is the superior version and the one worth watching.
As for Dylan, I think the writers meant to show him in that calm manner so he could fly under the radar and easily weasel his way into the lives of an unsuspecting family.
Perhaps I'll get a copy of it, watch it and make a few comments.

4,015 Posts
Re: The Stepfather - Blu ray Review

IIRC I did see the original and did not think too much of it, but I actually enjoyed this one and very creepy indeed and will be watching again, thanks for the review though!
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