The Review at a Glance: ( max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: Screen Gems - 2009
MPAA Rating: Unrated
Feature running time: 101 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 2.40:1
Audio Format(s): English/French/Portuguese DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Spanish: Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish, Portuguese
Starring: Dylan Walsh, Sela Ward, Amber Heard, Penn Badgley
Directed by: Nelson McCormick
Music by: Charlie Clouser
Written by: J.S. Cardone (screenplay), Donald E. Westlake (earlier screenplay)
Region Code: Free
Blu-ray Disc release Date: February 9, 2010
When Michael Harding (Penn Badgley, TV’s “Gossip Girl”) returns home from military school, he finds his mom is madly in love with her charming live-in boyfriend David. At first, David appears to be the ultimate nice guy and an ideal future husband and stepfather. But when Michael and his girlfriend start delving into David’s past, they begin to discover a dark and dangerous side to Michael’s new “daddy” in this riveting, chilling thriller.
Here we go again…a foray into the dark abyss of the remake; Hollywood’s answer to a lack of original ideas-- or a financial fear of them??(what is going to happen when the think tank runs out of 80’s horror to so wonderfully “re-imagine”?) This week’s episode in horror remakes is brought to you by 1987’s ‘The Stepfather’. If you were a fan of the original you can stop reading now and move along to another movie, this isn’t worth it. ‘The Stepfather’ is about a family man with a secret; he lies about everything and when he is caught he kills his stepfamily, changes identity and starts over. One day he will get it right and hopefully live happily ever after. He sure screwed up this time as he got Sela Ward (The Fugitive) as his new wife--I personally wouldn't mess that one up! If it all worked out perfectly we wouldn't have the suspense that this movie is so reliant on. I mean, we know what he does and who he is from the beginning so there is no mystery; there must be some suspense?? What the original Stepfather had going for it is that 'suspense' thing I referred to (it also had ‘Terry O'Quinn’ as good ol’ Daddy, who was perfect in the roll), unfortunately that itsy bitsy factor got lost in the huge task of translating an already successful original screenplay. In the lead is Dylan Walsh (Nip/Tuck) who held his own and no doubt could have been a menacing villain given a better script. Amber Heard (Zombieland) played step daddy’s new stepson’s girlfriend (say that 5 times fast). She was in a bikini or her panties in every scene she was in; not that I consider that a bad thing BUT it eventually got annoying, if that's even possible. The Stepfather has a good cast, has good acting and is technically proficient, the new script is just soulless. The bottom line is 2009's The Stepfather is just super bland and mediocre at best. My suggestion to any interested party is to see the original, it was a darn good 80’s horror flick!
Unrated - Intense sequences of violence, disturbing images, mature thematic material and brief sensuality.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
The Stepfather comes to Blu-ray Disc from Sony featuring 1080p AVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 sound.
Sony hits it out of the park with a wonderful video transfer. Fine details are eye candy everywhere you look, colors are rich, natural and used in nice contrast to the darker scenes. Black levels are as good as I have seen with spot on shadow detail. What makes this transfer so impressive is the slight film-grain mixing in so perfectly with this sharp HD transfer; it just looks like a movie. The DTS-HD Master Audio track was very close to getting as high a rating but it had a strange and annoying issue: the dialogue was too low at times. I turned up the volume to hear speech then music would kick in and it was too loud. Then I had to lower the volume...then more dialogue so I had to turn it back up. I don't want to hold the remote adjusting the volume while a watching a movie, c’mon now. Eventually it evened out but the issue reared its ugly head again towards the end of the film. Besides that, it was a good sounding track. Low end punched me in the chest a few times, having a very controlled and tight sound to it. The panning effects moved fluidly across the sound stage and the dynamics, when the dialogue evened out, gave the track a nice depth--but it was the music that stood out. The films score was energetic, clear and crisp, albeit sounded a bit too much like Harry Manfredini's Friday the 13th score for my tastes. Almost great track; however I cannot forgive mixing dialogue too low.
- Commentary with Penn Badgley, Dylan Walsh and Director Nelson McCormick
- (HD) Open House: Making the Film
- (HD) Visualizing the Stunts
- (HD) Theatrical Trailer and 6 TV Spots
- Gag Reel
- Movie IQ
This is the Step-version of the Stepfather, and I am the token non-accepting son. I went in with an open-mind, hoping for the best, but I liked my first daddy so much better than this new watered down clone. Sony gives us another gorgeous looking Blu-ray, but somehow let a shaky audio mix pass them by. The Stepfather does not have a huge set of extras, but the Making the Film and the Visualizing Stunts featurettes were both enjoyable to watch. Movie-wise, if decide you have to submit yourself to giving this a spin I would suggest a rental.
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Reference Review System:
Anthem LTX 500 1080p High Definition Front Projector
Prismasonic HE1500R Anamorphic Lens
Custom 1.3 Gain 128" 2.37:1 CinemaScope Screen
Pioneer SC07 Receiver
Pioneer BDP-320 Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Triangle Zerius Speakers (7.1)
SVS PC13-Ultra Subwoofer