The Stepfather (2009)


Directed by: Nelson McCormick

Executive Produced & Written by: J.S. Cardone

Story by: Carolyn Lefcourt, Brian Garfield & Donald E. Westlake.


Dylan Walsh .... David Harris
Sela Ward .... Susan Harding
Penn Badgley .... Michael Harding
Amber Heard .... Kelly Porter
Shelley Stringfield .... Leah
Paige Turco .... Jackie Kerns
Braeden Lemasters .... Sean Harding
Jon Tenney .... Jay Harding 

Release Date: Quick Theatrical: October 16, 2009

*Images courtesy at:






On Christmas morning a psychopath
David Harris (Dylan Walsh) murdered his wife and stepkids because they weren't the ideal family for him and then moves away to another country hoping to find better luck along with changing his name and identity too.
He meets up with a recently divorced mother Susan Harding (Sela Ward) at his workplace and then they start to form a relationship and surprises her oldest son Michael (Penn Badgley) after returning from military school about him and her announcement that they are engaged even if he doesn't adjust to him too well and finds something strange about him.
David starts to show his temper towards the youngest child Jay (John Tenney) in which this scares him plus he seems to secretly kill neighbors or other people that he doesn't relate to very well in order to keep his family together.


Now when a remake is done it needs to have a totally different storyline but having some of the similar chemistry as this one just does that. It seemed a bit rushed with the writing though by what is all happening. In the beginning it shows the serial family killer David Harris aka Jerry Blake changing his identity and having a cup of coffee on Christmas morning which looks like a peaceful day but then you see the slaughtered family members which almost seemed creepy but yet not gruesome enough. Then he moves to another province which is similar to the first film but it changes big time after that.
The writing looked way too rushed when David and a single family woman Susan try to get to know one another at his workplace which didn't amuse me and I was thinking to myself that alot of remakes certainly rush alot to get from one story to the next without taking it's time to explain stuff.
Then there's moments like David hammering a real estate sign out of anger and frusteration which looked not too badly suspenseful but again it seemed rushed within the writing. However this moment was only used once revealing his psychotic anger compared to the original.
It was impressive with David trying to be an easy going type of family man but yet he seems a little too nice and then shows his true colors to one of the kids for not listening to his Mom which reminds you of those types who are involved in a relationship with a family member which you do NOT adjust to at all. This was quite impressive to the storyline without a doubt.
Then Dad comes to pick up his kids for the weekend which does give you that feeling of safety and a time to share your problems with while staying for the two nights with him.
Also there's moments with Susan telling David about her allergies to cats as her elderly eccentric neighbor owns a bunch in which of course David will do anything to please her. I just thought to myself "Please no more horror films with a cat being killed since it almost seems so common in movies these days" When he pays an unexpected visit to this neighbor it sure is spooky and disturbing by what he does to this poor old lady and you will jump in certain spots too.
There's great writing with the Dad nearly assaulting David which was really great to watch showing a portective father defending his innocent child but you do think to yourself that he is on David's death list as the next victim. In which later on he is suffocated slowly but I won't give that away. Yet it is psychological on your worst ways of dying and this scene borrows a bit from the classic slasher flick Black Christmas.
There's more enjoyable scene's and writings in the film like when the oldest son from military school Michael tries to see if he is the actually family killer that the police are out for and trying to find evidence without getting caught which can leave a chill down your spine while watching this but a real bone chiller is when he uses his cell to try and call his Dad but hear his Dad's cell ringing on the other end in the besement vent. Right away I was thinking he is going to be done in.
The terror really starts when David freaks out at Susan telling her it's not the right family for him which makes this moment very hard to watch and you know that he is ready to kill again. However when he does so the storyline weakens a bit but picks up afterwards when her heroic son David tries to save the day which looked incredibly action packed.
Bottom line is the story weakens a bit but then it goes back on track big time and is a totally different story on it's own in which other filmmakers should watch this one when they decide to do a remake on another horror classic since everything about this is different other than the killer wanting a perfect family. It's not as bad as how others make it either in my personal opinion even if it didn't do too well at the box office. Plus the ending is different and opens a door for a remake sequel.

The acting is fairly good BUT lead actor Dylan Walsh (David Harris) seemed to just have the Mr. Nice guy looks and charm. He comes across as a nice guy that way along with showing that he has a meanstreak too which isn't too terrible. A nice approach with him by grabbing someone by the neck and getting firm with him which also looked nicely and suspensefully performed. A good moment with him hammering down a real estate sign with terrific anger which was impressively done. Yet when he shows his deadly side it isn't too convincing and a bit over the top and not believeably menacing like Terry O'Quinn did. Sorry dude no points there.
Sela Ward (Susan Harding) does well as the divorced family woman in the film by portraying a nice sharp attitude in her role as well as showing some of the odd aggressions too when she had to do this. She also showed a nice assertiveness too. A good fresh reaction by her getting cocky with her onscreen ex in which looked like a believeable argument towards one another. All in all she was quite strong in her whole performance.
Penn Badgley (Michael Harding) seemed to do fairly okay as a son returning from military school in which he had the proper teenage attitude as one of those types. He also shows some good anger and emotions with what he did in his performance bringing it up big time. He shows a great amount of energy in what he does throughout the film too. Good moment lying on his bed listening to his headset and crying emotionally as this looked incredibly believeable. A terrific startling moment with him screaming in shock and falling back after revealing something in a freezer of a basement which shows some terrific stuff here. Terrific anxious moments on him trying to find some way to get out of the basement calling out which was highly energised too.
Jon Tenney
(Jay Harding) really brought it on as a single family man trying his best to spend time with his kids in which he came across well as being protective of his children in which he shows a great aggressive behavior whenever something wrong happens. Shows some terrific aggressions attacking his fellow actor and accusing him of hurting his son which was powerfully done and in a great fashion in which he was believable by losing his temper. He was truly a good character actor.
Braeden Lemasters
(Sean Harding) does a nice job as a typical kid wanting to play video games and listen to his TV loud in which he really acts full of life while doing this all. He also knew on how to act disturbed when he isn't happy about something. A nice energetic moment when he is playing video games and acting full of life which looked well performed. I mean this lad really knew his role inside out and can go far in life with his acting career.

A sharp piece of a broken mirror is stabbed in David Harris.

There's very good light echoey piano playing for alot of the calm moments in the film along with great thumping and banging music for the terror and suspenseful moments too. Plus we hear some low violing music and the odd hissing sound effects which seems to work well which was nicely put together by Charlie Clouser.