The Stepfather (Blu-ray)

January 28, 2012 7 Min Read

Review by: Matt Brighton

Plot: What’s it about?

In less than two months, I’ll be married and my wife to be has two children of her own from a previous marriage. Why do I mention this? Well, to put two and two together – I’ll be a stepfather; and wouldn’t you know it, that’s the name of the Blu-ray in question here! Now by simply looking at the cover of the Blu-ray, I could tell that it wasn’t mean to be some warm, sappy love story. No the “stepfather” in question is wielding a butcher’s knife. Hmmm…ok, mental note: don’t watch this with my future step sons. Well, couple that with the fact this movie is actually a remake of a film by the same name and, yes, we’ve got ourselves a horror movie on our hands. And why is it that the term “step” anything has a negative connotation associated with it? Do all the “step” this and that’s of the world have Cruella DeVille to thank for that or maybe “Cinderella”? Regardless, I did watch the movie with my fiancee and she’s still speaking to me after the ending credits rolled, so let’s get to the meat of “The Stepfather.”

David Harris (Dylan Walsh, best-known for his work on TV’s Nip/Tuck) has just killed his entire family. Yes, kids and wife and all. He shaves, eludes the police and starts his life over in Portland, Oregon where he meets Susan (Sela Ward). David’s a nice enough guy, claims he lost his wife and daughter in a car crash the year before and flash forward six months and Susan and David are engaged to be married. Susan has children, one of which has just returned home from military school, Michael (Penn Badgley from TV’s Gossip Girl). Michael instantly suspects David’s up to no good and he and his girlfriend, Kelly (Amber Heard, whose only job is to parade around the film in a different bikini in every scene) do some digging and don’t like what they find out. Of course, the audience knows who David is and what’s he’s capable of but the family doesn’t. So the movie leads us up to the inevitable confrontation. We just don’t know who, if anyone, will emerge victorious.

My fiancee’s comment was that she didn’t know why David would continue to do this (kill families) and was wondering what his motivation was. My response to this was that he’s crazy and crazy people don’t really think along the same rational lines of thought that the rest of us do. Nevertheless, “The Stepfather” is pretty much what you’d expect it to be and it does deliver if you’re going along the “make the horror movie in three simple steps” route. The acting is ok and I have to admit that Sela Ward still looks pretty darn good for 50 + years old. I suppose the movie isn’t all that bad, but it has the obvious cliches and you’d have to suspect someone who has a wall full of padlocked cabinets in the basement, no? Still if you check your brain at the door, it might be good for a rainy day. As for me, well my wedding is still on, so maybe it’s good that this movie wasn’t any indicator of things to come. Right?

Video: How does it look?

Sony presents “The Stepfather” in a very vivid 2.40:1 AVC HD transfer that looks about as good as we’d expect it to. Admittedly, there’s eye candy for both sexes here so whether you prefer to gawk at Amber Heard in her bikini or Penn Badgley as he parades around shirtless, you’ll be equally satisfied. Edge enhancement is not an issue, colors are warm though the darker scenes seem a bit challenged and contrast seems right on target. All in all, it’s about what we’d expect for a new to Blu-ray movie from Sony, who constantly delivers top notch transfers.

Audio: How does it sound?

The DTS HD Master Audio soundtrack is fairly active at times and, as with any horror movie, we do get some fairly robust sound effects at the climax of the movie. Dialogue is crisp and natural as we might expect and though the surrounds weren’t quite as active as I’d like, they do chime in at some very convenient times. The LFE do make their presence known as well, but by and large this mix is front-heavy as we might expect.

Supplements: What are the extras?

Not a whole lot of supplements are included and I’ll admit that I just didn’t have it in me to listen to the commentary by director Nelson McCormick, Dylan Walsh and Penn Badgley. I’m sure it’s great though and for any die hard fan of the film, it’s there for you. Two featurettes are also included one tells the history of the movie and how they wanted to remake it and the next is a focus on set design, showing how they lit the house, how it was all one set and so forth. There’s also a gag reel as well as the original theatrical trailer. Sony has also included their “Movie IQ” on this disc as well.

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