The Stepfather

October 24, 2009 - Actors better known for their roles on TV than in film populate this 2009 remake of the 1987 original. Dylan Walsh takes over the title role originated by Terry O'Quinn. Walsh currently stars on the cable hit Nip/Tuck and, coincidentally or not, played a man who killed his family on an episode of Law and Order: SVU. Also starring here are Sela Ward (Sisters), Jon Tenney (The Closer), Penn Badgley (Gossip Girl), Paige Turco (NYPD Blue) and Sherry Stringfield (ER).

Walsh plays a murderous man who goes from family to family, hooking on to single moms with children and then killing them when they don't obey his every word. As the movie opens, we see him leaving one dead family behind in Salt Lake City. He heads to Portland where he goes by the name David Harris. He meets divorcee Susan Harding (Ward) in the grocery store and soon finds himself engaged and living with her and her children.

Things start to unravel when a nosy neighbor sees a sketch of the Salt Lake City killer on TV and tells Susan that it looks like David. For her trouble, the nosy neighbor gets herself killed. Also in jeopardy is Susan's sister, Jackie. She gives David a job, but becomes suspicious when he won't fill out the required paperwork. And, Susan's ex-husband (Tenney) really should not have asked the alumni association all those questions. Take all that into account and it's time for David to start thinking about finding himself a new family.

Overall review: ** The Stepfather is watchable despite being thin on many levels. With the exception of David, the rest of the characters seem like nice people. You root for them even though you don't know much about them. I think what bothers me most is not what the film does but what it doesn't do. A lot of things happen, but we never learn why or how. Most notably, we never get the backstory on David in terms of why he kills his way from family to family. Because we never understand his motivation, there shouldn't be much motivation for you to watch this movie.