Saturday, October 17, 2009

Movie Review: The Stepfather (2009)

Family is everything and without it we are lost. At least that’s what David Harris (Dylan Walsh) would have you believe. The quintessential family man, David wants more than anything to be a good father, and he will do whatever it takes to attain the perfect family — even if it means killing them.
In this modern-day reboot of the 1980s Stepfather franchise, we come face to face with our monster almost immediately. Within 30 seconds we have him sized up, we know exactly what he looks like. In a genre so heavily concerned with the unknown, The Stepfather and thrillers like it may seem out of place. There are no wretched creatures, no masked and mysterious madman.
No, the terror to be had in these films tends toward an unsettling familiarity. Their monsters are not grotesque, malformed abominations. Instead, they walk among us, wholly undetected, the better ones even managing to charm us. This particular fiend is so near to our common experience that it has readily embedded itself in our very home. Each day we can find it putting on a suit and tie, getting into its SUV, and driving off to the most inconspicuous of desk jobs. And therein lies the horror: it’s already with us.
Dylan Walsh simply embodies his role as the psychopathic everyman. His suspicious stepson is played to a key by Penn Badgley – a very talented young actor that should be looked out for in future films. In fact, the entire supporting cast does a bang up job in reacting to Walsh’s great eccentricities. The script is quality, the pace is good, and the camera work and lighting are spectacular.
For a horror thriller, the underlying theme of this movie was handled astonishingly well. This man is a straight up monster, and yet, for all his atrocities and malevolence, he never strays from his objective. Most horror directors in Hollywood today could really learn a thing or two from Nelson McCormick's work on this film and I highly recommend a viewing of it to anyone ready for a quality addition to the genre. By its end, you might never look at your dad the same way again.

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