Reprising the unfortunate wine-into-water routine of his Prom Night remake, director Nelson McCormick performs a similarly unwelcome trick by blandly rehashing Joseph Ruben’s solid 1987 sleeper hit. TV staple Dylan Walsh steps into the role previously filled by Terry O’Quinn, playing David Harris, a serial killer who targets vulnerable young women and their families.
JS Cardone script’s opens with an effectively gothic scene, with Harris calmly changing his appearance to the tune of ‘Silent Night’ while the bodies of his latest victims lie festering under the Christmas tree. Any tension, however, is quickly dissipated by the miscalculated strategy of focusing not on single mom Susan (Sela Ward) and her kids, but on her grown-up son Michael (Penn Badgely), freshly returned from being military school and suspicious of her mother’s new beau.
Despite the Hamlet-lite subtext, The Stepfather never amounts to much, with the dozy family taking a protracted ninety minutes to wake up to the titular character’s obvious villainy. Given that McCormick seems much more interested in photographing Michael’s girlfriend Kelly (Amber Heard) in a skimpy bathing suit, a career photographing swimwear models more seems more likely than in horror.
n General release from Fri 11 Sep.