The Stepfather (2009)

This remake of 1987’s horror classic is no better or worse than the vast majority of PG-13-rated horror remakes that came out at the time of its release. Which is to say that, given the tame rating, there’s not a whole lot of gore or violence, which isn’t a bad thing per se in a horror movie, but it also means that the nubile cast is half-dressed the entire time to at least provide the audience with some titillation. It’s precisely that juxtaposition of sex and violence that makes the movie so icky to sit through; the familial dynamics inside the family home are all over the place and staggeringly inappropriate, with lead Penn Badgley and onscreen girlfriend Amber Heard spending the majority of the movie in various stages of undress, while there’s the constant threat of violence coming from the title threat. In the first half, the narrative seems more focused on domestic violence than any underlying theme or moral impetus, while the second half just veers out of control thanks to its unnecessarily overstuffed plot, with a scattering of various concurrent plotlines colliding together in a blur of unsatisfying, rushed resolutions. As the stepfather, Dylan Walsh is more robotic than menacing, expressing less rage even his worst moments than a Trump supporter does on a regular basis, so it’s all just underwhelming.

Rating: ★★ (out of 5)

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