The Stepfather (Review)

Thriller remake lacks thrills

First off, you know this is a remake of a relatively effective 1987 thriller focusing on the horrors within broken domestic situations. The update sticks closely to that dynamic. Secondly, there’s never any doubt about the scenario because we see Dylan Walsh’s psycho calmly walk away from one family that he’s either broken or frozen in deadly perfection (take your pick) before he saddles up to Sela Ward’s newly divorced sexy mother of three in a grocery store.

The plot hinges on the wayward oldest son (Penn Badgley) and his maturation into his role as the new protector of the family. Attempts are made to showcase his growing deductive and inductive reasoning skills, but this young hunky Sherlock suffers because the clues are barely even hidden in plain sight. I realize a staple of this genre is a stunning ineptitude of adults, especially the authorities, but, in this age of high-tech crime scene investigations, you have to wonder how far back in time the writers had to go to find the Keystone schlubs here who couldn’t find a crime scene if they were the victims.

No matter, though, since it’s not about them or Ward (which is surprising in a way due to our current fascination with hot older moms). Things step off quickly, and Badgley connects the rather large dots, but there is never any sense of true sleaze — definitely not even enough to inspire audiences to shout back at the screen. Grade: D

Opens Oct. 16. Check out theaters and show times, see the film's trailer and get theater details here.

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