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Nelson McCormick
Penn Badgley, Dylan Walsh, Sela Ward
Writing Credits:
JS Cardone

Michael Harding suspects his new stepfather may not be as wonderful as he seems.

Box Office:
$20 million.
Opening Weekend
$11,581,586 on 2734 screens.
Domestic Gross

Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 2.40:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
French DTS-HD MA 5.1
Spanish Dolby 5.1
Portuguese DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 102 min.
Price: $14.99
Release Date: 2/9/2010

• Audio Commentary with Director Nelson McCormick and Actors Penn Badgley and Dylan Walsh
• “Open House” Featurette
• “Visualizing the Stunts” Featurette
• Gag Reel
• Trailer and TV Spots
• Previews


-LG OLED65C6P 65-Inch 4K Ultra HD Smart OLED TV
-Marantz SR7010 9.2 Channel Full 4K Ultra HD AV Surround Receiver
-Panasonic DMP-BDT220P Blu-Ray Player
-Chane A2.4 Speakers
-SVS SB12-NSD 12" 400-watt Sealed Box Subwoofer


The Stepfather [Blu-Ray] (2009)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (April 16, 2023)

Back in 1987, The Stepfather took a real-life tale of a murderous man and made it into a thriller. 22 years later, 2009’s The Stepfather offered a remake of this story.

Not long after her divorce, Susan Harding (Sela Ward) meets David Harris (Dylan Walsh) in a grocery store. This introduction launches the two into a romantic relationship and they quickly get engaged.

When Susan’s teen son Michael (Penn Badgley) returns from military school, he immediately feels suspicious of his mom’s new husband. Does Michael simply harbor Oedipal jealousy or does his Spidey sense truly understand something’s amiss?

Given that viewers go into Stepfather with awareness that they’ll get a dark thriller, few should wonder which path the movie will take. For the dense folks in the audience, though, the flick comes with a prologue that immediately reveals David’s violent nature and thus alleviates any questions.

Which feels like a terrible choice to me. Again, I get that Stepfather sells itself as a flick that will involve bodily peril and whatnot, but it would make more sense to at least pretend that some doubt exists.

Perhaps some like this “honest” approach, and it does follow the same choice made for the 1987 edition. Maybe it seems logical to just admit to the viewer immediately that David will be a psychopath and go from there.

I still think this feels cheap and sells short the audience. At the very least, a version of Stepfather in which we wonder if Michael reads David correctly would offer an objectively more interesting tale.

As it stands, this one’s prologue means we get no suspense – well, at least in terms of David’s nature. The movie still comes with potential tension related to whether or not David will cause harm to Michael and/or Susan.

Even that doesn’t seem particularly anxiety-provoking, however – at least not for folks who’ve seen many movies of this sort. No spoilers here, of course, but I figure most viewers understand how this tale will end.

Despite the predictable conclusion, a well-made thriller could create some suspense along the way. Alas, Stepfather doesn’t offer a well-made thriller.

Instead, it delivers a wholly ham-fisted affair. The movie telegraphs every possible plot point or “scare”, factors that mean it lacks even the most rudimentary surprises.

Stepfather never trusts the viewer. It pours on ominous music and spooky visuals with such alacrity that its lack of subtlety ensures not the slightest drama along the way.

Heck, Stepfather barely even attempts to make David look like an especially appealing dude. He comes across as so creepy and suspicious in so many ways from the first time Susan meets him that her willingness to ignore red flags means she comes across like a dope.

Well, Amber Heard provides some good eye candy, at least, since she seems to spend most of the movie in either a bikini or skimpy outfits. That becomes the closest thing to a positive I can find in this clunky thriller.

Note that the Blu-ray includes only the movie’s “Unrated Director’s Cut” and omits the “PG-13” theatrical version. Apparently the “UDC” runs about 48 seconds longer than the “PG-13” edition.

Based on what I found online, the differences mainly revolve around more graphic violent content. This comes as no surprise.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

The Stepfather appears in an aspect ratio of 2.40:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. The movie came with a fairly good but unexceptional presentation.

For the most part, sharpness felt appealing. Some softness crept in at times, and the film rarely seemed razor sharp, but it nonetheless offered generally positive delineation.

No issues with jagged edges or moiré effects appeared, and I saw no edge haloes. Light grain showed up, and I witnessed no source flaws.

Stepfather opted for a heavily teal palette, with some amber tossed in as well. The colors could seem somewhat overdone but they worked fine for the production’s goals.

Blacks seemed reasonably deep and dense, while shadows felt largely appropriate. While I never found this to become an impressive image, it seemed satisfactory.

Similar thoughts greeted the movie’s decent DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack. It offered a fairly engaging affair but it never excelled.

This meant a mix that leaned heavy toward creepy ambience and not a lot more. Occasional violent scenes broadened horizons somewhat, and the soundfield seemed suitable for this story, and a thunderstorm added some dimensionality, but the mix failed to create a particularly active piece.

Audio quality worked fine, with speech that seemed natural and concise. Music appeared warm and full.

Effects came across as accurate and dynamic, and they lacked distortion. Expect a perfectly adequate soundtrack.

As we shift to extras, we begin with an audio commentary from director Nelson McCormick and actors Penn Badgley and Dylan Walsh. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific look at the original film and its adaptation, story and characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, editing, stunts, and related domains.

Though not a bad track, this becomes a pretty mediocre discussion. We get a decent overview of the movie but the commentary never feels especially compelling.

Two featurettes follow, and Open House runs 20 minutes, 12 seconds. It brings notes McCormick, Badgley, Walsh, producers Mark Morgan and Greg Mooradian, production designer Steven Jordan, and actors Sela Ward, Amber Heard, and Jon Tenney

“House” covers the original film and its adaptation, cast and performances, sets and locations, photography and audio, McCormick’s impact on the production, and general thoughts. Though the piece leans too much toward praise, it nonetheless becomes a decent mix of notes and behind the scenes footage.

Visualizing the Stunts spans 11 minutes, 35 seconds and features McCormick, Tenney, Walsh and stunt coordinator/2nd unit director Mike Smith.

Unsurprisingly, this one examines the movie’s stunts and action. We get a pretty good view of the topic.

A Gag Reel goes for four minutes, 52 seconds and brings a lot of the usual goofs and silliness. Walsh offers some amusing improv lines but most of the compilation seems ordinary.

The disc opens with ads for Boondock Saints II: All Saints Day and Armored. Previews adds promos for Soul Power, 2012, Zombieland, Breaking Bad, Michael Jackson’s This Is It, Prom Night (2008), The Exorcism of Emily Rose, Universal Soldier: Regeneration and The Damned United.

We also get the trailer for Stepfather as well as six TV spots.

If you want a suspenseful and dramatic thriller, look somewhere other than The Stepfather. Cheesy and heavy-handed, the movie lacks even basic intrigue or impact. The Blu-ray comes with generally positive picture and audio as well as a mix of bonus materials. Though the 1987 version didn’t excel, it worked way better than this misbegotten remake.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
0 3:
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