The Stepfather (2009) - Unrated Director's Cut

Genre(s): Horror / Thriller
Sony || Unrated - 102 minutes - $28.96 || February 9, 2010
Reviewer: Tyler Thomas || Posted On: 2010-01-24


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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

.:: 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


Technical Information:
  • Number of Discs: 1
  • Widescreen (2.40)
  • English (Dolby Digital 5.1), French (Dolby Digital 5.1)
  • Subtitles: English, English SDH, French

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.::THE FILM::.

Iíve typed out several actors and actresses that are ďtypecastĒ into their respective genres, and if they try to act in anything else audiences may find their acting performance hard to stomach. Kate Beckinsale, Kate Beckinsale, and many others are examples of people who I canít take seriously outside of their respective franchise roles. That being said, and trust me there is somewhere Iím going with this, Dylan Walsh (From FXís ďNip/TuckĒ) is cast as a creepy killer of families despite the fact heís the mild-mannered ďgood guyĒ from the series. The Stepfather is a decent flick but trying to believe Walsh can be a psycho-killer is a far stretch, even for me.

David Harris (Dylan Walsh) is your typical, everyday, loving stepfather. Oh wait I forgot to mention that he has killed every family heís been with, and meets his latest victim at the supermarket. Susan (Sela Ward) runs into him, along with her Sean (Braeden Lemasters). Susan and David quickly bond and get engaged within six months and all seems good and well with the couple. Michael (Penn Badgley) returns home from military school and is greeted by the almost always in a bikini girlfriend Kelly (Amber Heard). Michael starts to realize though that David isnít all heís cracked up to be though despite Davidís best efforts to suck up to Michael and the family.

One of the neighbors notices that David looks like someone from television, a supposed serial killer, but Susan shrugs off the idea and jokes around with David about it. Startled by the news of this, a few days later he surprises the old woman at her house and kills her by pushing her down the stairs then suffocating her. This triggers a series of events that causes David to slowly lose control of the family, as Michaelís father comes back into the picture and is angered that David tried to choke his son. The father quickly realizes that he also isnít who he should be, and does a background check on him, which obviously leads to him getting killed off. Can Michael and Kelly prove that his new stepfather is indeed a psycho killer, or will David manage to kill yet another family and leave the town with a new identity?

Alright, itís time to begin with the numerous plot holes and problems I found within the movie. Michael has a little sister, Beth (Skyler Samuels) who is in the movie like twice. Once near the start then at the dinner scene shortly later. Unless I missed some giant line stating where she went, she just magically disappeared. Iím assuming she had some deleted scenes or lines that stated what happened but I could find nothing about it. I donít understand the point of them having a little sister if she does nothing during the entire flick, so Iím sure this is just a minor oversight.

The fact that the family is so stupid is amazing. Itís been six-plus months and yet no one has realized Davidís creepy demeanor and not done a background check on the guy? It takes the divorced husband to do so? The family clearly has a computer with internet access and could do such a thing in a few minutes, yet no one ever does. Instead, Michael asks his father to do it. Plus, Michael and Kelly suspect Davidís up to no good yet do nothing like go to the police, talk to the mother about things, or anything rational. People are dying and strange things are happening around the house, like oh I donít know the crazy old lady being inside for a week plus or the idea that David has his own shrine downstairs locked up. How does a locked-up basement not trigger some sort of response from ANYONE in the family?

By the way, Amber Heard is in a bikini for about twelve minutes in this film. Fans of her will be happy to know that almost every time sheís on screen itís in a skimpy two-piece bikini. Iím not sure why there were times she wasnít, but whoever thought of the idea ďHey letís put her in a bikini for sexual appealĒ should be paid millions. Sheís going to be the next Megan Fox if she plays her cards right, and by playing her cards right I mean starring in better flicks.

Also of minor note, the movie is presented in an unrated format, different from the theatrical release. However, I couldnít find anything that stood out as being ďunrated,Ē as the movie has few swears and not that many violent sequences.

The flick wasnít that bad though, but in comparison to other horror flicks Iíve seen this one just doesnít hold up to par.



.::SPECIAL FEATURES::.

Commentary with Penn Badgley, Dylan Walsh, and Nelson McCormick: The three commentators mesh well together as they blend a perfect mix of humor, information, and other things into this well-done commentary. They are funny at times and yet also insightful as the track progresses, talking about nods to other films such as Disturbia and pointing out some character flaws along the way.

Making the Film (20 minutes): This simple extra deals with the behind-the-scenes of shooting some of the filmís sequences and thatís about it. Thereís not that much in terms of excitement here, as the crew discusses the remake and also their direction of the movie compared to the original.

Visualizing the Stunts (12 minutes): I wasnít aware that there were any real stunts in the movie, besides the last sequence that is, but apparently there were. The scenes with action in them are shown and how they were done, so if you are into these types of extras then youíll get a kick out of this one.

Gag Reel (5 minutes): The cast flubs lines and improvs them too. I didnít laugh once the entire time, so judge accordingly.

The Criminal Lifestyle (7 minutes): This is an original episode chronicling some guy named Banner that didnít make any sense to me and was too short to enjoy. Iím not sure why this is an extra on the DVD; although once the film is released Iím sure there is some sort of promotion that goes into it for future reference.



.::AUDIO & VIDEO::.

Since this is a new release, I always set my sights according to how recent the film was in theaters and hope for the best. The flick doesnít look astounding, but I must say the movie certainly looked better than was anticipated. Colors are bright and vivid, although there were noticeable amounts of scenes that lacked proper detail. At some points during the film I saw multiple scenes that looked pale in comparison to others and lacked significant amounts of detail. Flesh tones for the most part looked proper, although in a few of the bright sequences I noticed the color was a tad bit off. There were minuet parts that contained noise and grain but they were quite few and far between. This is a great transfer despite my many knit picks, and one that studios should take a look at in how to improve for future reference.

I had major problems though with the audio track, as the Dolby Digital 5.1 failed to impress me in the slightest. There were many times where I had to tweak the audio considerably, mostly in the up category, and that caused me to have to do way too much work for a new release. The dialogue is incredibly light but on a positive note I didnít struggle to understand what was said as clarity was pretty well-done. Despite the movie being somewhat of a thriller/horror flick, there werenít too many ďscareĒ moments that caused my surround sound to trigger that much during the movie so anyone looking for that will be quite disappointed. This is just an example of a poor track that should have had more surround usage and louder dialogue.



.::OVERALL::.

Iím not sure what it was about The Stepfather, but I didnít overly enjoy nor dislike the movie. There were some decent movies, mostly amounting to Amber Heard, and then stop stupid moments mostly relating to the crappy plot with tons of plot holes confined within. The video transfer is great, but the lackluster audio track didnít do much for me or my surround sound. The commentary alone is worth a rental, although the other special features left me wanting other things as interesting. Iíd say this is one stepfather you can rent for the weekend and then throwback to the wolves. Just be careful who you meet at the store; you never know who might be on a television show about being wanted.