Terry O'Quinn plays The Stepfather in this intelligent, unsettling chiller. 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. The Stepfather remains relatively engaging even through its overtly underwhelming stretches, as the actor does a superb job of ensuring that Jerry never quite comes off as a run-of-the-mill horror-movie psycho - which only heightens the impact of those moments wherein the character drops the blandly charming exterior and demonstrably loses his temper. 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. The Stepfather is the full package: fast-paced, well-acted, suspenseful and brimming with bursts of nasty violence. 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. The otherwise pervasive absence of outwardly positive elements is inevitably compounded by the consistently predictable nature of Donald E. Westlake's screenplay, and although the action-packed finale is admittedly quite stirring. 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.
VERDICT: "High-Quality Stuff" - [Positive Reaction] This is a rating to a movie I view as very entertaining and well made, and definitely worth paying the full price at a theatre to see or own on DVD. It is not perfect, but it is definitely excellent. (Films that are rated 3.5 or 4 stars)