Movies of the Season: The Stepfather

The Stepfather, released on Oct. 16, tells the story of the seemingly normal Harding family whose oldest son, Michael Harding (Penn Badgley) returns home after military school and finds his mother happy with her new boyfriend, David Harris (Dylan Walsh). Everything thing seems okay at first, but Michael starts becoming suspicious of his new stepfather when he cannot find anything about his past.

The audience knows that David is not his real name, he took many alternate identities and names with other dad-less families. It gets weirder . . . and scarier. David not only goes from family to family, he goes from dead family to soon to be dead family. The film opens up with David, now known as Grady Edwards, casually shaving in his bathroom, but when he goes to grab breakfast, we see the camera catch glimpses of pools of blood and dead bodies of the kids and wife of the family. This scene definitely sets the tone for the rest of the movie; the sudden instance of tragedy is dispersed throughout the entire movie.

Fast forward to the Harding family, and everyone watching the film knows the family is in trouble. Slowly people outside the family (relatives, friends, coworkers) start to notice something suspicious and investigate David and along with Michael’s investigations we start to see the story and true image pieced together. But their efforts to save the Harding family may be too late.

At this point in the movie, the story line is about average, although the anticipation builds through and your desperation to find out what ultimately happens to the family is as strong as Michael’s to uncover the truth about David.

Penn Badgley, as the leading actor in the movie, fit the character of Michael Harding quite well, however the performance wasn’t a stand out by any means. In fact, not too many other actors in the film really had a breakout role. Dylan Walsh as the stepfather definitely had a frightening appearance, the look in his eyes of a cold-blooded killer was gripping and you could tell this guy was a sure psychopath.

The directing and story line of the movie I have to say was average, nothing too special.

The movie provides several thrilling scenes, that is if you’re a fan of horror films, but by the end, it seems we knew every move The Stepfather was going to take and thus, it was a bit unsurprising. I must admit though, the ending (not giving away anything) was unsatisfying. But by any means, if you are into not too scary movies and just want to add to your collection, go right ahead. For true horror stories, however, where every scene is something unpredictable, you may want to go see another film coming out. How about 2012?

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