31 Days of Horror: The Stepfather – DVD Review


31 Days of Horror continues with the family-horror film The Stepfather. Terry O’Quinn (Lost’s John Locke) does a kickass job as a determined family man who on the surface seems perfectly normal. What those around him don’t realize, and soon come to discover is that this man is anything but the nice, kind man he makes himself out to be.

As the logline for the film states: “He wanted the perfect family,” but unfortunately for him and the families he inserts himself into, the concept of perfection doesn’t exist. As this Stepfather’s idyllic world starts to unravel, his only recourse is to eliminate the problem and start anew. By any means necessary.

Terry O’Quinn’s role as the Stepfather is amazing, and his ability to shift emotions from psychotic to caring in one beat is a testament to how skilled an actor he is. I have been a fan of Mr. O’Quinn’s since the FOX series, Millennium, and his work on Lost has proven him to be an excellent and compelling actor.

Based on true events (how disturbing is that?), the film is played as real and as minimal as possible. Something like this could be happening right next door or across the street and you’d never know until it’s too late.

We’ve all seen, heard, or read true-crime stories where neighbors of some psycho state, “He was such a kind and loving man. I can’t believe he would do something like this.” The same could be said of O’Quinn’s character in The Stepfather.

What makes this film work is the tension and overall complexity that builds and continues to ratchet tighter and tighter as O’Quinn’s character’s (at this point in time he’s named Jerry) world begins to fall into disarray. His step-daughter begins to suspect him. The brother of the woman he killed previously is out to get him. It’s only a matter of time before the walls start to close in and the truth will either get out, of Jerry will have to stop it.

The opening sequence is one of the most memorable I’ve seen in a horror movie. It’s subtle, but at the same time there’s a definite level of shock that the sequence delivers. The opening is almost an intriguing short film in and of itself.

The music in the film is understated, but effective in evoking eeriness and shock at just the right moments. Hats off to composer Patrick Moraz for his score.

This version of the film contains some noteworthy special features which include:

Audio Commentary by Director Joseph Ruben

The Stepfather Chronicles

A retrospective look back at the genesis and legacy of the film. It features new interviews with the primary cast and crew. What’s unfortunate is that they were unable to get Terry O’Quinn for an interview about the film and his character. I think that would have been a great addition to this mini-doc.

This new edition of The Stepfather on DVD will be in stores Tuesday, October 13. If you like horror movies that get under your skin and have the ability to truly make you paranoid, I recommend it. Also, if you are a fan of Terry O’Quinn, this is a great opportunity to see some of his early work (you can also see him reprise this role in The Stepfather II).

Check out the trailer for the remake of The Stepfather in theaters October 16.

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