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THE STEPFATHER
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Reviewed by: Matt Withers

Directed by: Joseph Ruben

Starring:
Terry OQuinn
Jill Schoelen
Shelley Hack

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
A man in search of the perfect family life takes the Hollywood approach. Make it, and if it doesn't turn out well, kill it and reboot. In other words, pretty much my life story - just don't tell my current wife and kids.
Is it good movie?
I love this movie, and the only reason I don't hate the idea of the upcoming remake is that not enough people have seen this excellent genre film in the first place. Maybe their curiosity will be peaked and the original will get some more well deserved love.

The story itself is simple but grabs you immediately. A suburban dad insists on an unattainable perfection in his family. When he gets disappointed, things get bloody as he ends what isn't working and moves on to a new family.

The heart of this underrated gem is the duo of Terry O'Quinn as the stepfather and Jill Schoelen as the troubled stepdaughter. Their performances are far better than you expect to find in genre fare, and manage to bring about an interesting dynamic.

Sure O'Quinn is nuts and evil, but he's also strangely sympathetic. Schoelen on the other hand, while certainly not deserving of the treatment handed her, is a legitimate pain in the ass kid. I didn't want to kill her, but I did want to smack some sense into her.

Also surprising is the strength of the direction. From the opening sequence which is a masterpiece, we're given notice to expect more than the usual. Subtle, creative angles, mix with an unsettling refusal to steady the camera to create a movie that doesn't need to jump out at you. It just sets you on edge and lets you get more and more tense as you wait for the wheels to come off the wagon.

Video / Audio
Video - Widescreen, 1.85:1

Audio - Not listed

The Extras
Audio Commentary - Director Joseph Ruben in an interview style commentary, which I honestly wish they would stop doing because they almost always being very dry. This one is no exception.

The Stepfather Chronicles - Your typical fluff piece tossed in to make a DVD that doesn't really have any notable special features appear as though it does.

US Theatrical Trailer

Last Call
If you haven't already seen this then you really owe it to yourself to check it out before the rather ridiculous looking remake soils the memory of the original. It's rare that you get a smart, twisted, genuinely creepy thriller like this one. It's time to see it - or see it again.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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