The Stepfather (2009) - Unrated Director's Cut [Blu-ray]

Genre(s): Thriller
Sony || Unrated - 102 minutes - $38.96 || February 9, 2010
Reviewer: Brian Oliver || Posted On: 2010-02-05


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.:: F I L M ::.
The Film

S P E C I A L
.: F E A T U R E S :.

Special Features

.:: V I D E O ::.
Video

.:: A U D I O ::.
Audio

B L U - R A Y
.:: EXCLUSIVES ::.

Blu-ray Exclusives

.:: O V E R A L L ::.
Overall
.::MOVIE INFORMATION::.
Director: Nelson McCormick
Writer(s): Carolyn Starin & Brian Garfield and Donald E. Westlake (story), J.S. Cardone (screenplay)
Cast: Dylan Walsh, Sela Ward, Penn Badgley, Amber Heard


Theatrical Release Date: October 16, 2009


.::DVD INFORMATION::.
Supplemental Material:
  • Feature Commentary
  • 3 Featurettes
  • Gag Reel
  • movieIQ
  • BD-Live


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (DTS-HD MA 5.1), French (DTS-HD MA 5.1), Portuguese (DTS-HD MA 5.1), Spanish (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese

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.::THE FILM::.

The Stepfather is just the latest in a string of remakes because Hollywood cannot come out with anything original. The movie is a remake on the 1987 classic (starring Terry O’Quinn from “Lost”) and while I haven’t seen that version, I can’t think this did any justice. In fact, Stepfather ’09 was adapted by J.S. Cardone and directed by Nelson McCormick who you may or not know (probably not) were the guys behind the horrid Prom Night remake. Although this one didn’t sink to those depths, it wasn’t too far behind.

The “story”, as it goes, is about psychopath David Harris (DYLAN WALSH), a man who... well, I honestly don’t know why he does the things he does – even though it is hinted during a lovely dinner convo – but more on that later. At the beginning of the movie we see him going through a normal daily routine: showering, shaving, making breakfast, looking over the murdering carnage done by his hands, you know, the normal stuff. The grisly crime scene puzzles the detectives who realize that they might have a serial killer on their hands as the same MO has happened before.

Mr. Harris, however, moves on fairly quickly going to Portland, Oregon where he meets divorcee Susan (SELA WARD) and her kids; 6 months later they are madly in love and set to get married. Things are going so right for David until Susan’s eldest son, Michael (PENN BADGLEY) returns home from a stint in military school because apparently he was a troubled teen or something. He comes home to find his mother engaged to the incredibly corny and dopey wannabe family man so obviously he is none too pleased. He also comes home to his incredibly hot girlfriend (AMBER HEARD) who the filmmakers’ made the brilliant choice of putting her in a bikini throughout the whole movie.

Anyway, David tries to reach out to Michael to be his confidant and also rebuild the family dynamic he desperate wants. But his true self begins to be exposed beginning with being physically abusive to the youngest son for playing his game too loudly and then the ex-husband and Susan’s sister begin to question who David really is. Oh, and he also must fear the cooky cat-lady elderly neighbor who saw a sketch on “America’s Most Wanted” who looked similar to David and mentions this to Susan.

So things begin to quickly unravel for David and now he just might have to do what he did at the previous home before he is caught... or something along those lines. You can guess what happens and the entire finale.

The Stepfather, like Prom Night and When a Stranger Calls before, doesn’t have a whole lot to offer the audience. Instead of being enthralled with the story or the characters, I instead was bored – that is, until Amber Heard was on screen. Other than Heard, the rest of this movie is basically worthless, but not really because of the casting.

Dylan Walsh is primarily known for his role on the hit FX series “Nip/Tuck”, but I thought he did an OK job as the doting psychopathic family man especially since the script barely gives him any character background and instead relies on him to be able to turn the switch from one scene to the next.

Similarly, Sela Ward also has little to do except be that woman who shrugs off the warning signs from her loved ones until that man she loves comes at her with a kitchen knife. Woops. I think her taste in men might not be the best. Really, there’s not much of an arc with that part or for what would be the protagonist part of Michael. Mikey runs around being suspicious of the step-dad and goes on his own to prove it. Not sure why he didn’t make an anonymous call to “AMW” telling them this murderous fugitive might be living in Portland, but whatever.

In the end, The Stepfather is another space-wasting flick that never should’ve been made. Just like Prom Night, When a Stranger Calls, The Last House on the Left, etc, etc, etc. I didn’t think this was as awful as those others, but when you get down the bottom of the barrel, is there really much of a difference?

The movie does have a couple suspenseful moments so that’s the reason for my rating, but overall stay far away from this remake. Meanwhile, I am off to rent the original as I should’ve done in the first place...



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

movieIQ is Sony’s mainstay where you get info (via BD-Live) about the cast and crew and other bits of trivia. I’ve never was a fan of this feature as I can easily use sites like IMDb to see an actor’s profile, plus it takes a hell long time to load. ** Blu-ray Exclusive **

Commentary with Director Nelson McCormick and Actors Penn Badgley and Dylan Walsh – The track is amiable enough as the trio (Walsh recording his end in New York) talks about how they found out about the project and McCormick tells us some of the behind-the-scenes tricks like filming locations and camera shots. This isn’t a terribly fascinating audio commentary but it’s still not too bad.

Open House: Making the Film (20:12; HD) – The featurette goes over the casting and other aspects of making the movie and then each cast member talks about one another as well as their own roles. Despite the lengthy running time, this is merely a glossy and typical ‘making of’ featurette and quite frankly, I’m not sure how in-depth it could really get.

Gag Reel (4:52) – This is a standard blooper reel where you get your usual line flubs and prop and set malfunctions.

Last up we actually get the theatrical trailer and TV spots (2:33; HD) for a change. And one cannot leave out the BD-Live (** Blu-ray Exclusive **) portal.

A quick note about the trailers, they feature an intense shot as a saw comes down and nearly cuts into Amber Heard. According to IMDb, this shot was cut to secure a PG-13 rating, yet this being the “Unrated Director’s Cut”, it still is NOT in this version.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

The Stepfather is presented with a 2.40 aspect ratio and in 1080p high-definition (MPEG-4 AVC codec). I didn’t find the video on this to be terribly impressive as some shots looked a little soft, though it might’ve been how it was shot. That said, other parts did look good with no noticeable flaws with some film grain during a couple dark scenes; colors are also well balanced and the detail levels, outside of the couple soft focus shots, are also fairly nice.

The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track isn’t the best but you also don’t get a whole lot to judge it on. The forgettable score, by Charlie Clouser (Saw movies), is at times light – though not the fault of the soundtrack – while the dialogue levels are good making use of the center channel. The front and rear channels, however, don’t get a whole lot of use except for ambient noise and off-camera voices. Basically, you won’t get much of an immersive auditory experience with this track.



.::OVERALL::.

Although The Stepfather may not be as terrible as other recent remakes, it still wasn’t very good. The cast does OK with what they have but it all comes across as a bad made-for-TV thriller than a feature film with an actual budget. The Blu-ray has a decent video transfer and an acceptable audio track while the features overall are forgettable. Skip this release.