The Stepfather - Movie Reviews - Rotten Tomatoes

The Stepfather Reviews

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May 8, 2016
Seriously flawed low-budget thriller saved from the scrapheap almost entirely by Terry O'Quinn's genuinely terrifying performance in the titular role. He plays a psychopath who drifts from family to family, marrying widowed women, and then killing the entire family when he decides they don't measure up to his ideal of the perfect American family. What little insight the film gives us into this sick man's mind emanates from O'Quinn's performance. Jill Schoelen is reasonably strong and likable as the plucky teen who sees through O'Quinn's fašade, but Shelley Hack is wasted in the underwritten role of her tragically credulous mother. The script features a number of logical flaws that become increasingly difficult to ignore, and the suspense-driven sequences, while well-handled in a pedestrian sort of way, leave much to be desired. That leaves us only with O'Quinn and the film's attractive location cinematography, which manages to give us some memorable imagery to look at. Not too bad, if you're into horror movies, but I've certainly seen way better.
½ February 19, 2016
Smart and suspenseful, The Stepfather is a sleek and stylish thriller that benefits from its terrific narrative and highlights a sinister and terrifying performance from Terry O'Quinn.
½ November 27, 2015
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)
½ August 9, 2015
With a great interpretation from Terry O'Quinn and some intensive thrilling moment, "The stepfather" is one of the best slasher film form the 80's. It's just too bad that the final act doesn't acheive to propose something more creative.
½ July 5, 2015
All-American Stepdad trades in family after family in brutal fashion once challenges threaten his perfect family facade. Above-average thriller with a notable performance from Terry O'Quinn as the Stepfather. Remade in 2009.
February 8, 2015
A great horror classic. (Ignore the sequels and remake.)
January 3, 2015
Beautiful thriller with surprisingly fine acting from Terry O'Quinn who gave a chilling performance as a murderous psychopath who possibly has his roots of craziness in his troubled childhood.
December 1, 2014
I felt like it couldn't make up its mind between a slasher or a thriller and, ultimately, didn't achieve either.
½ September 10, 2014
It has perhaps the cheesiest 80's score for a horror film I've ever heard, but "The Stepfather" is never less than entertaining. The movie packs enough suspense and violence to keep you interested, it has a fairly good script, and it's solidly acted (especially by Terry O'Quinn in the title role).
August 29, 2014
Terry O Quinn nails this suspenseful awesome acting film!
July 16, 2014
Joseph Ruben, has done a great job at creating the psychopath that Terry O'Quinn proves to portray in this movie. Creepy, and yet interesting to watch
½ July 6, 2014
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.
June 1, 2014
Probably the best of the ____ from hell subgenre of horror movies. Terry O'Quinn scares the fuck out of me.
February 17, 2014
Terry O'Quinn brings a stunning performance to an otherwise basic horror film. The reason this one stays with me is simply because of O'Quinn himself and, without mention of it's plot, he makes The Stepfather worth watching, once.
December 21, 2013
The Stepfather is indeed a film worthy of its cult classic status. While the plot could use more work, the film is simply owned by the superb performance of Terry O'Quinn. Not since Robert Mitchum as Preacher Harry Powell in The Night Of The Hunter and Anthony Perkins as Norman Bates in Psycho has there ever been such a chilling, frightening, and totally believable killer in horror films. The film does a great job at following how his character's mental state slowly falls apart as his vision of a perfect family cannot be achieved. It's a slow building horror film, but when he comes undone, the film explodes with tension and pure horror in a superb climax. This is a film in which the enjoyment comes from the build-up and performances, so this is not for someone looking for faster entertainment and scares. It's a damn creepy and effective film that still holds up really well. It's certainly not perfect, but it's a great horror/thriller with a lot of surprises up its sleeve. If you enjoy slow building horror films, this is one to check out.
½ October 28, 2013
Before there was John Locke, Terry O'Quinn was the Stepfather...this nifty little psycho drama has become a cult classic..and it's good to see it finally get a DVD release.
½ October 28, 2013
Before there was John Locke, Terry O'Quinn was the Stepfather...this nifty little psycho drama has become a cult classic..and it's good to see it finally get a DVD release.
October 25, 2013
This is a pretty good horror flick (gotta love '80s horror); however, there were some flaws in the plot that I really couldn't get over. For instance, how did the cops seriously not have any leads at all as to where "Jerry" could be? He never even left Washington! Why wouldn't they just post his photo in the newspaper?! Also, at the beginning of the movie, "Jerry" changed his appearance (shaved beard / cut hair) AFTER killing the family. So this means that, in the couple weeks before (when he was setting up his new job/home), he looked EXACTLY the same as he did when he murdered the first family. Furthermore, I find it extremely hard to believe that, within ONE year, Stephanie's mom grieved over the death of her husband, started dating Jerry, married Jerry, and now expects her daughter to treat Jerry like he's her father. Talk about moving fast..... Finally, if you really want "the perfect family," why go after a single parent who has an angsty teenager? He should only be targeting single moms who have young, pre-adolescent children because then his chances of being accepted/liked by the children are much higher.
Super Reviewer
October 17, 2013
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.
½ August 19, 2013
Well I liked this one I now see this verison and the newer verison I like this one much better then the newer one this is when movies were good
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