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Genre: Thriller
Starring: Dylan Wash, Sela Ward, Penn Badgley, Amber Heard, Jon Tenney
Director: Nelson McCormick
Rating: NC-16 (Some Violence & Disturbing Scenes)
Year Made: 2009




- Gag Reel
- Commentary with Penn Badgley, Dylan Walsh and director Nelson McCormick
- Open House: Making the Film Featurette
- Visualizing the Stunts


Languages: English/Portuguese/Spanish
Subtitles: English/Thai/Chinese/
Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1 Widescreen
Sound: Dolby Digital 5.1
Running Time: 1 hr 42 mins
Region Code: 3
Distributor: Origin Entertainment




When Michael Harding (Penn Badgley, TV's Gossip Girl) returns home from military school, he finds his mom is madly in love with her charming live-in boyfriend David (Dylan Walsh, TV's Nip/Tuck). At first, David appears to be the ultimate nice guy and an ideal future husband and stepfather. But when Michael and his girlfriend (Amber Heard, Zombieland) start delving into David's past, they begin to discover a dark and dangerous side to Michael's new "daddy" in this riveting, chilling thriller.


"Nip/Tuck's" Dylan Walsh plays the titular role in "The Stepfather", an okay, if somewhat too pedestrian, remake of the 1987 original which this reviewer found out, was in fact a cult classic. Yes, Terry O'Quinn (better known as John Locke in TV's "Lost") was in that previous movie, and apparently his chilling performance has been hailed by both audiences and critics alike. Walsh's own take in comparison does feel a little muted, but the fault lies less in him than on director Nelson McCormick and writer J.S. Cardone.

Reteaming from their inept "Prom Night" that surprisingly did modest box office business, McCormick and Cardone have little ideas beyond what the original already offered. The same premise applies- the psychopath, who's a charmer with the ladies, travels from town to town befriending single mothers, reaching out to her children and apparently rebuilding families when all he does is leave a trail of bodies in his wake. Mirroring the original, McCormick's remake begins beguilingly with a seemingly typical day for Walsh's David Harris as he shaves and gets ready for work before the camera pans around to show a family of four all dead in their home.

All well and good, as Harris moves to another suburban neighbourhood where he meets Susan Harding (Sela Ward) and her family of three children- the youngest son Sean, the middle daughter Beth and their eldest Michael (Penn Badgley) just out of military school. Michael will be the one who suspects there's something more to Harris than the good-ol widower he claims to be, when resident weirdo Mrs Cutter dies of a mysterious accident after claiming Harris resembles someone on America's Most Wanted.

So begins the buildup to the final climactic revelation of Harris' true identity and it is here that McCormick's bland direction and Cardone's aimless script is obvious. Instead of ratcheting the tension notch by notch from its unnerving opening, McCormick and Cardone go the other way, bringing it down one notch at a time by taking their audience from one odd occurrence to the next, one random disappearance to the other with little urgency.

In fact, you know something is off when you get more sizzle from watching Amber Heard play Michael's hot girlfriend Kelly walk around in her bedroom in her knickers or splash around in a bikini with Michael in the pool at the back of the house. A thriller needs good pacing, something which is somewhat lacking in "The Stepfather". What’s more, to keep things PG-13, McCormick has also shied away from any violent or gory scenes, and just like his earlier "Prom Night", takes the edge off the subsequent killings.

Things only start to pick up really towards the last half hour of the show, and though its set-against-a-thunderstorm climax is nothing you haven't seen before, it is nonetheless thrilling and easily the most exciting sequence of the entire movie. It leaves its audience thinking that the film ultimately could have been more, were McCormick to pump in a little more of the atmosphere in the climax throughout the rest of the movie. But as it is, no thanks to its leisurely pacing and lacklustre direction on the most part, "The Stepfather" is just your average thriller good for a watch on a lazy Sunday afternoon but nothing more.


Commentary with director Nelson McCormick and stars Dylan Walsh and Penn Badgley
- Not terribly exciting nor boring, this commentary track is just as bland as the movie itself. Figures since the stars probably weren't very much excited about this movie anyway.

Open House: Making the Film- The standard-issue making-of featurette that talks about the decision to remake the original and how director Nelson McCormick chose his cast and what they brought to the project. As usual, everyone is in praise of everyone else.

Visualising the Stunts- Rather pointless since there isn't many stunts in the film to begin with, as the stunt coordinator himself rightly points out at the start of this featurette.

"Gag Reel"- Yes, we get it, actors don't always get their lines right on set and things get broken accidentally. We'll pass.


The Dolby Digital 5.1 has a very strong bass and uses its surround effects amply during the film's climax. Picture is clear and sharp with no visible flaws throughout.



Review by Gabriel Chong

Posted on 3 April 2010


Other titles from Origin Entertainment:

. 2012 [Blu-Ray]

. Julie & Julia

. Cloudy With A Chance of Meatballs

. American Son

. Personal Effects

. The Ugly Truth

. Sex, Lies In Sin City

. Hardwired

. Terminator Salvation [Blu Ray]

. Obsessed

. The Taking of Pelham 1 2 3 [Blu Ray]

. Angels & Demons [Blu Ray]

. National Geographic: Sea Monsters [Blu Ray]

. Final Fantasy VII: Advent Children [Blu Ray]

. Paul Blart Mall Cop

. Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines (Blu Ray)

. Cadillac Records

. Underworld Rise of the Lycans

. Rachel Getting Married

. Not Easily Broken

. Anacondas Trail of Blood

. Nick & Norah's Infinite Playlist

. Punisher: War Zone (Blu Ray)

. Seven Pounds

. Red Sands

. Fireproof

. Plasterhead

. Slam

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. Center Stage: Turn It Up

. Street Fighter

. The House Bunny

. The Cook

. Step Brothers

. Open Season 2

. Anaconda 3: Offspring

. Hancock

. You Don't Mess With The Zohan

. Prom Night

. Casino Royale

. Redbelt

. Felon

. Tortured

. Penelope

. Hellboy Animated: Blood & Iron

. Hellboy Animated: Sword of Storms

. Away From Her

. The Take

. Saawariya

. Black Book

. The Shepherd

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. Cleaner

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. The Jane Austen Book Club

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This review is made possible with the kind support from Origin Entertainment


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