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The Stepfather Reviews

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Tim Brayton
Antagony & Ecstasy

That's really all the movie needs to work: a sublime villain, with tight, driven direction, perfectly sturdy, effective writing, and a heroine who we can believe in.

Full Review Source: Antagony & Ecstasy | Original Score: 8/10

June 21, 2012
Kevin Carr
7M Pictures

The key to this movie is O'Quinn as the title character. He's a scary bastard, and as an actor he commits to the role.

Full Review Source: 7M Pictures | Original Score: 3.5/5

June 27, 2011
John Beifuss
Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN)

The Stepfather works for American Eagle Realty, and the company logo pegs him as both a patriot and a predator. 'It's like living with Ward Cleaver,' his stepdaughter complains, not knowing that the 'cleaver' reference could be another pun...

Full Review Source: Commercial Appeal (Memphis, TN) | Original Score: 3.5/4

February 11, 2011
David Nusair
Reel Film Reviews

...ultimately manages to overcome its almost aggressively uneven atmosphere to establish itself as a solid little '80s thriller.

Full Review Source: Reel Film Reviews | Original Score: 2.5/4

November 25, 2009

The Stepfather is the full package: fast-paced, well-acted, suspenseful and brimming with bursts of nasty violence.

Full Review Source: Dread Central | Original Score: 4.5/5

October 16, 2009
Nick Schager
Lessons of Darkness

Ruben's surprisingly resonant and durable tale ... cannily reflects, in a larger way, the era of its creation

Full Review Source: Lessons of Darkness | Original Score: B+

January 15, 2008
Variety Staff
Top Critic IconTop Critic

An engrossing suspense thriller that refreshingly doesn't cheat the audience in terms of valid clues and plot twists.

Full Review Source: Variety

September 24, 2007

TV Guide's Movie Guide

Just when it looked like slasher movies were wholly irredeemable, director Joseph Ruben came along to prove there is some intelligent life in this otherwise bereft subgenre.

Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide | Original Score: 3.5/4

September 24, 2007
Douglas Pratt

The Stepfather makes use of a classic fairy tale device--the false parent--but it turns out to have a powerful effect upon one's involvement with the characters.

| Original Score: 3/5

June 15, 2007
Jeffrey M. Anderson
Combustible Celluloid

A high water mark of 1980s horror/suspense.

Full Review Source: Combustible Celluloid | Original Score: 3/4

September 4, 2006
Derek Adams
Time Out
Top Critic IconTop Critic

One is left longing for Hitchcock's dark, daring wit and disturbingly amoral insights.

Full Review Source: Time Out

June 24, 2006
Emanuel Levy

Borrowing from Hitchcock (Shadow of a Doubt) and Kubrick (The Shining), Ruben's elegant, darkly humorous tale deconstructs patriarchy and can't be divorced from the Republican family values that dominated the 1980 with their 1950s retro feel.

Full Review Source: EmanuelLevy.Com | Original Score: B+

July 6, 2005
Clint Morris

One of the classiest thrillers to never come out of Hollywood

| Original Score: 3/5

March 11, 2005
Janet Maslin
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Too often disappointingly thin.

Full Review Source: New York Times | Original Score: 2/5

August 30, 2004
Blake Davis
KFOR Channel 4 News

An inventive, overlooked, classic slasher film from the 80's.

| Original Score: 3/5

September 12, 2003


Thankfully, director Rubens doesn't take advantage of every opportunity for cheap thrills and gore.

Full Review Source: Film4

May 24, 2003
Bob Bloom
Journal and Courier (Lafayette, IN)

A wonderful horror film because the people are so ordinary

| Original Score: 3/5

August 13, 2002
Janet Branagan
Apollo Guide

The Stepfather has no problem standing alone as an excellent horror flick. Fans of the horror genre and fans of just a good campy film will delight in this movie.

Full Review Source: Apollo Guide | Original Score: 79/100

February 13, 2001
Pat Graham
Chicago Reader
Top Critic IconTop Critic

The styling is never less than assured, and [director] Ruben knows how to put bland, unruffled surfaces to sinister Hitchcockian uses.

Full Review Source: Chicago Reader

January 1, 2000
Roger Ebert
Chicago Sun-Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

While I was watching the film, I was distracted by elements of the Idiot Plot Syndrome -- moments when only an idiot would have made such obvious mistakes.

Full Review Source: Chicago Sun-Times | Original Score: 2.5/4

January 1, 2000
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