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All Critics (29)
| Top Critics (7)
| Fresh (25)
| Rotten (4)
| DVD (3)
An engrossing suspense thriller that refreshingly doesn't cheat the audience in terms of valid clues and plot twists.
One is left longing for Hitchcock's dark, daring wit and disturbingly amoral insights.
Too often disappointingly thin.
The styling is never less than assured, and [director] Ruben knows how to put bland, unruffled surfaces to sinister Hitchcockian uses.
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.
May be the best movie about the breakup of a family since Shoot the Moon.
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 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 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...
...ultimately manages to overcome its almost aggressively uneven atmosphere to establish itself as a solid little '80s thriller.
The Stepfather is the full package: fast-paced, well-acted, suspenseful and brimming with bursts of nasty violence.
Ruben's surprisingly resonant and durable tale ... cannily reflects, in a larger way, the era of its creation
Before he was marooned on a desolate island, Terry O'Quinn was a fiendishly vile serial killer who targeted widows and their suspicious children. The brilliance of 'The Stepfather' is the subversive nature of the screenplay insofar as the antagonists' motives are ultraconservative (his 'Father Knows Best' desire is a nuclear family with strong moral fiber who don't spout profanity and profess unflappable respect for their elders) and his victims could be construed as the immoral ones. Stephanie is a rebellious teenager who is undergoing therapy whereas Jerry is the distilled image of normalcy- a halcyon role model with a thriving real-estate career who socially invites his friends to neighborly cookouts due to his generosity. The race-against-the-clock element of Blakes' ex-brother-in-law narrowing down his location is a goosebump-inducing nail-biter. Soliloquizing to himself in the basement and violently smashing his wooden crafts like a frothing madman, the stupendous character actor O'Quinn can quickly transpose his fury for imperfections into a smiling, supportive bread-winner within seconds. When Blake switches the envelope photographs of himself for another suspect, his deviousness is incontrovertible. On the downside, the soundtrack in the slasher finale can be a tad strident but it is a minuscule sacrifice for an otherwise astute, irreverent rollercoaster that reverses the sanctity-of-family convention.
While it plays like a normal lower budget 80's thriller / horror flick the awesome Terry O'Quinn elevates the movie for me. He the perfect blend of loving husband and father mixed with psychopath. His ability to turn it off and on puts him above the rest of the cast.
The movie is also darker than I remember it being which also sets it apart from other films like it of the decade.
This is a very realistic and scary horror movie, more of a horror drama, I'd say. Plus, I heard it was based on a true story, which makes sense because it's so realistic. It's a family's worst nightmare, if you love horror movies, you should see this.
Average horror film portraying yet another serial killer. The Stepfather is a suspenseful, creepy and compelling film. The Stepfather is a film that really goes at the heart of terror as Terry O'Quinn's character murders a fatherless family before finding new families to prey. An average horror film, The Stepfather is a pretty good, thrilling film with a pretty good villain, also the film is tense and creepy.
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