The Stepfather (2009)

Review by CJ

Nelson McCormick

Dylan Walsh, Sela Ward, Penn Badgley, Amber Heard

Other notable appearances:
Paige Turco, Sherry Stringfield, Jon Tenney

Running time:
101 minutes


When Michael (Badgley) returns from military school, he finds his mother Susan (Ward) engaged to a man she’s known for six months. Susan’s fiancé David (Walsh) tries to endear himself to Michael but the formerly wayward teen suspects his future stepfather has insidious motives. With the help of his girlfriend Kelly (Heard), Michael must discover what David is up to in order to save his mother and siblings.

First of all, can we talk about that promotional poster? I was recommended The Stepfather by the same friend who recommended The Invitation and when I saw that poster on Netflix, I almost backed out. That tag line? Wow. It was almost the proverbial straw before years of camel rehabilitation and physical therapy. But — to paraphrase an old adage — I decided not to judge the movie by its cover.

As it turned out, I’m glad to have watched The Stepfather. It was an interesting take on the thriller genre. The viewer knows from the beginning what David has done and what he is likely to do again, so instead we are forced to watch the family stumble along and love a man who has done unspeakable things. It is both fascinating and excruciating.

The plot is interesting but the pacing in The Stepfather had a few issues. Rather than build tension, the film seemed to drag out during the first half. Once everything kicked into gear it was hard not to be sucked in though. The twist ending is predictable but enjoyable.

The actors all did a good job of portraying their characters. The main characters — David, Susan, Michael and Kelly — were all interesting characters. The younger family members, brother Sean and sister Beth, were both very peripheral characters. Sean only really becomes part of the plot when he becomes a catalyst for conflict between David and the children’s father Jay.

Overall, The Stepfather is a good thriller film despite dragging its feet early on. I would recommend it to fans of thriller films. It’s not a particularly memorable film, but The Stepfather is well worth watching as an example of different styles of thriller films.


“Who am I here?”


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