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The Stepfather

The Stepfather

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 2 out of 5

THERE are two ways to ‘enjoy’ Nelson McCormick’s remake of minor ’80s horror hit The Stepfather – although sadly neither of those have anything to do with the quality of the film.

Firstly, try counting how many TV stars have landed key roles in the film and then name the series they’re most famous for.

Secondly, enjoy counting how many gratuitous semi-naked shots of co-star Amber Heard there are littered throughout proceedings, whether frolicking in her lingerie on the bed, or emerging from swimming pools in her best swimwear.

Beyond that, sadly, there’s little else to enjoy as The Stepfather is another tepid remake from the same guy who brought us the similarly pointless Prom Night revamp.

The plot finds Nip/Tuck‘s Dylan Walsh playing a man who travels from town to town across America insinuating his way into the lives of fatherless families in a bid to create the perfect home environment.

When that fails, and the cracks begin to show, he slaughters every inhabitant.

His latest victims are a recently divorced mother (Sela Ward) and her three children, the eldest of whom (Gossip Girls‘s Penn Badgley) has recently got out of military school and is immediately sceptical of the scenario.

The 1987 version of The Stepfather was a lean, effective chiller that featured a memorable central performance from Terry O’Quinn, whose motivations and manipulations made for gripping viewing.

Sadly, the ’09 makeover adds nothing, contains telegraphed and/or contrived plot devices and never really feels as tense as it should. The ‘15’ certificate even means the blood-letting is kept to a bare minimum.

Walsh, meanwhile, fails to channel the inherent evil of his character with any real conviction and never seems likely to outsmart Badgley’s rogue son or the remainder of the family.

The murders that do happen come courtesy of stupid plot devices that merely undermine the intelligence of every viewer.

The overall result, therefore, is another pointless remake that’s clearly aimed at the toothless teen horror market. It’s dull, laboured and not at all scary.

Certificate: 15
Running time: 101mins
UK DVD Release: April 19, 2010