A family-values man named Jerry Blake (Terry O’Quinn) marries widows and divorcées with children in search of the perfect family. As soon as his new family members show signs of being human and not robots who will march unquestioningly to his tune, his dreams of domestic bliss begin to crumble, and he kills them. Then he alters his appearance, assumes a new identity, and skips to another town to begin the deadly ritual all over again. He marries Susan Maine (Shelley Hack), who sees him as the ideal surrogate father for her teenage daughter Stephanie (Jill Schoelen), and he is soon up to his old tricks when she proves to be too much of a troublesome teen to handle.
User Reviews: The Stepfather (1987)
*** (out of 4)
Troubled teenager Stephanie (Jill Schoelen) is still suffering the side effects of her father’s death a year earlier but things don’t get any better when her mother (Shelley Hack) marries a new man (Terry O’Quinn). Stephanie thinks there’s something wrong with Jerry but she doesn’t realize that he’s actually a serial killer who gets rid of his "family" after they disappoint him.
THE STEPFATHER pretty much came out of nowhere when it was released and became a nice little hit for the studio. There are certainly elements of various movies rolled up here but there’s no question that the film works wonders especially with the terrific performances and some intense scenes towards the end. The movie certainly isn’t flawless and at times it shows it’s B-budget but it’s still a nice gem that has plenty going for it.
I think the greatest thing is the fact that O’Quinn is simply brilliant in his role. The first time we see him we see the aftermath of his brutal murders and yet the actor is so charming in the part and so charming to his new family that you can’t help but like him. O’Quinn is so believable in the part that you easily forget that you’re actually watching a cold-blooded monster. Once the character begins to crack, O’Quinn doesn’t miss a beat. Schoelen is also extremely good in her role and is quite believable as the teen who just knows something isn’t right. Hack, Charles Lanyer and Stephen Shellen are also good in their parts.
The film has some nice tension throughout and especially the finale, which packs a nice little punch. As I said, the film certainly isn’t flawless as there are some pacing issues that make the film move a bit too slow but this here doesn’t take away from all the good stuff. I’d also say some of the sync music score could have been thrown away. Still, THE STEPFATHER contains some terrific performances that makes it worth watching.