Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The Stepfather

I haven’t seen the 1987 original of which the 2009 film The Stepfather is a re-make, but the new version offers both the positive and negative aspects of psychological thrillers and it’s as interesting to discuss those issues as to talk about the film itself.

But as to the film, Dylan Walsh plays Grady Edwards, who as the opening credits roll calmly disguises himself as he walks away from a home which has became a crime scene – he has murdered his family. A weakness of the film is that we never know why. The man is deliberately elusive, but the script should (in my opinion) have offered more insight into his make-up.

Calling himself David Harris, he quickly befriends an attractive divorced woman who decides he is perfect and invites him into her life and her family. Only her older son has suspicions – on which the son’s girlfriend, played by the frequently bikini-clad Amber Heard, unwisely pours scorn. The stepfather takes great pains to hide his identity and not be photographed, yet stupidly gives himself away by forgetting his story about his false past.

In essence, this is a formulaic movie, but quite well done. Was it a mistake to make it clear from the outset that Harris is a baddie? I think so. Was it unwise not to portray the characters in more depth? Undoubtedly. Yet I kept watching – the action is well-paced and not unduly prolonged. The final scene suggests a sequel is in the offing. Will I watch it? Perhaps.


Anonymous said...

Martin - You know, I hadn't decided whether to see this one or not. I agree that it's best if viewers have a sense of why a person commits the kind of murders this character did; it probably would have given the film more depth. I really appreciate your views on this.

Deb said...

If you get a chance, please try to see the original version from 1987. Although the set-up is the same and you do know from the beginning that the "stepfather" is a murderous psychopath, I believe the original is more subtle (that's an odd word for a movie of this type, but I think it's the right one) than the remake.

On a personal note, I have fond memories of this movie, in part, because on our way to the theater in 1987 the man who became (and still is) my husband told me he loved me for the first time. Aaaaawwwww.

Martin Edwards said...

Thanks, Margot.
Deb, great story!!!

J F Norris said...

Once was enough for me. Donald E Westlake wrote the screenplay for the original and envisioned it as a dark - make that bleak - satire. It was intensely violent but with a wicked sense of humor. I was surprised to be laughing at points. Terry O'Quinn (now best known for his recurring role in the TV show "Lost") and his riveting performance made the film the cult classic it is now. But I could never watch it again - whether as a re-viewing of the origianl or a first viewing of the remake.