The Stepfather (15)

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The Independent Culture

Fond memories of Joseph Ruben's thrillingly unpleasant B-movie of 1987 will be offended by this bland and almost blood-free remake.

Dylan Walsh plays the stepfather who battens on unsuspecting single mothers, marries them and eventually slaughters the whole family when they "disappoint" him. Latest victim to fall for his charm is Susan (Sela Ward), but her older son Michael (Penn Badgley) can't quell his suspicion that the new stepdad isn't all that he seems, prone to bursts of rage and forgetful of the names of his dear departed. Walsh is passable as the psychopath, but he can't match the satanic presence of the original's Terry O'Quinn, and for some reason the filmmakers have ditched the great basement scene where the stepfather freaks out, unaware that a terrified child has been eavesdropping. What director Nelson McCormick supplies instead are lascivious shots of Badgley's girlfriend (Amber Heard), who can't seem to walk across a room without showing off her pants. "I want us to be a real family," says the stepfather. Yeah, and we wanted it to be a real movie.