How Much Do You Really Know About Him?: The Stepfather (2009)

How Much Do You Really Know About Him?

In 2009, I was 17 years old. A senior applying to colleges, trying to figure out what to do next with my life-planning prom and other senior activities.

I remember when this film came out, it was a big deal at the time as Penn Badgley was super popular from Gossip Girl (it being in its third season) and this was to be his big film role (prior to this he was in John Tucker Must Die! as the little brother). I wasn’t super interested in it at the time- I was more angry about the Fame remake (which sucked as much as I had thought it would), that Where the Wild Things looked depressing instead of the fun book I remembered it being (it was both boring and depressing), and thought Dare, New Moon, and Avatar all sounded dumb. The only thing I was looking forward to was Robert Downey Jr. and Judd Law in Sherlock Holmes.

In fact I never probably would have even remembered anything about this movie, except my mom was so against it. But I was 17, I could watch whatever I wanted. I remember saying some smartmouth reply and getting in trouble for it.

I never did go see it in theaters as I didn’t really care about it.

Flashforward to the beginning of this year and I’m housesitting/catsitting for a friend who has cable-and not just cable, Lifetime!

I LOVE Lifetime and can’t help but watch the Lifetime movie channel. That day it was playing The Stepfather, so I decided what the hey? Why not check it out?

NO! NO! This was not good at all. I should have listened to my mom and passed this one by!

Yes, always listen to your mother!

So typically I do not review a movie without reviewing the original, but I didn’t get a chance to fit it in, so the review of the remake must go on.

So the film starts off with “the Stepfather” (Dylan Walsh) having killed his family and their dead bodies not even phasing him as he leaves and moves on to the next town to find his “new family”.

In the supermarket he meets Susan Harding (Sela Ward), with her two kids-Sean and Beth. He charms them quickly and he, now going by David Harris, and Susan begin a relationship.

If I’ve learned anything from movies and TV is the supermarket is nor the place for women to meet men. I mean the mom gets set up with a Vampire in Mom’s Got a Date With a Vampire, Susan gets with a serial killer, and Fran with a liar-guy is a hot dog vendor pretending t be a stock broker in The Nanny. Just cross that place off the list.

Don’t go there to look for men!

So David and Susan become engaged-which is something that really bothers me. I mean it is called The Stepfather, but David is NOT the stepfather. He and Susan live together, but they don’t marry. So why call it that? Because it is better than The Man My Mom Lived With or My Mom’s Evil Fiance or My Mom’s Serial Killer Boyfriend or Don’t Let Mom Marry the Serial KillerActually that last one sounds pretty good. It could be super serious teen drama or ’90s kids comedy-someone write a script, make a ton of money and give me 10% for the title.

Finally! This is almost over!

So anyways, it is the summer and Michael Harding (Penn Badgley) has just returned from military school. He was acting up after his parents’ divorced and was sent away. Depending on his behavior he can stay or will be shipped back.

Choose wisely.

He meets David and feels weird about the whole thing-everything has seemed to move toooo fast and he’s worried his mom might end up with another bad relationship-another guy like his dad.

Now here is where the film first failed with me. This film could have been a lot better if they went in a different direction then what they chose. Now I have never seen the original film this is based on, but think how much more horrifying if David seemed so nice, developed a great relationship with the kids, maybe even Michael opening up and sharing what happened with his dad-what he saw between his parents that made him not be able to stand his father and react so destructively. Then to have him realize David is not who he seems-I think much more interesting.

But instead David tries to bond with him but it is all so fake and creepy-Michael doesn’t tust him, second guesses him, and the suspense/mystery/horror is missing. We know David is a psycho and Michael knows it too-there is no buildup.

I mean Buffy the Vampire Slayer did this much better on their Ted episode. Buffy wanted to like her mother’s boyfriend, she tried to like him-but then felt something off-and she felt bad about being so down on her mom-convincing herself it was her problem not anything wrong with Ted. But then Ted starts being extremely controlling, he threatens her. He continues to treat her cruelly but others nicely, causing no one to believe her or make her think she is imagining it. It is emotional and mental abuse-and makes you wonder what will happen next.

That would have been a better path to take, but they didn’t do that.

Ugh!

Michael isn’t the only one who is unsure about David as Susan’s sister, Jackie, points out that there is a ton about David she knows zero about, although Jackie’s wife/girlfriend (it doesn’t state their exact relationship) thinks Jackie is being overprotective-as David’s hot. So what if they don’t know his family, religion, history, friends where he grew up, etc, and he’s not working-David’s hot.

Yeah, Susan really? I mean you are a single mom, don’t you want someone more stable for your kids? Don’t you think you want someone with a real job?

And David’s plan doesn’t make sense! He creates fake identities but has nothing to back him up? I mean he just plans to move from town to town with no social security number or anything and expect to work and live there? I mean they could have had him buy dead people’s identities and then have Michael do some research and stumble on to it! And then he presents it to his mom and she’s like, “oh that, it’s a common name that’s not him.” And then David doing something creepy like almost kill him, kind of like Joseph Cotton in Shadow of a Doubt when he starts sabotaging things around his niece because she knows too much, and everyone thinks she is just imagining things.

Anyways, one day Sean isn’t listening to Susan, so David decides to “discipline” and chokes him. When Sean and Beth visit their dad, he tells him and when Jay returns the kids he gets in a fistfight with David. Now this is my other issue with the movie-Jay confronts David about choking Sean and is freaking out and DAVID ADMITS IT and what does the mom do? Get angry at her EX-HUSBAND THE MAN PROTECTING HIS CHILD AND NOT THE MAN WHO JUST ADMITTED TO CHOKING OUT HER BABY. And afterwards Sean is all it my fault, and everyone is mad at Jay for making a scene and overreacting, and Sean apologizes to David and everyone is its okay, we forgive you. And later when Sean is freaking out, Michael is all its okay Sean David won’t hurt you again.

Uh, no. NO, NO, NO, NO! Jay was totally in the right and I completely 100% agree with his decision to pummel the guy ABUSING HIS child. And Susan, really? What is wrong with you! This man admitted to abusing your child because “he forgot what it was like being a father and discipling and maybe went too far. But don’t worry, he’ll learn how to do better, Uh, no! Get out of my house and out of my life and I am calling the police on you.”

WHAT!!!??

But Susan loves him. After that I checked out-I just couldn’t get over that scene. Now if they had David not admit to it, and change it around so it sounds like Sean is lying as he is upset at the changes, or Jay made it up, or twisted it in any way-I’ll buy that. But he admits it, and Susan cannot see the warning signs? Now I’ve been in an abusive relationship I now how they can meld your mind and practically brainwash you with their emotional and mental abuse- but your kids Susan! Your kids!!!

So Michael investigates, David goes on an anti-climatic killing spree, Michael’s girlfriend walks around in tiny clothes and bikinis, and the movie is just boring.

There is no suspense or buildup, no twists, it is all bland and very oatmeal-you know what you are getting and it happens-just as expected.

To start Horrorfest VIII from the beginning, go to Count Dracula the Propagator of This Unspeakable Evil Has Disappeared. He Must Be Found and Destroyed!: Horror of Dracula (1958)

For more serial killers, go to It Should Have Been a Movie or a Miniseries: American Gothic (2016)

So with today’s topic and October being national domestic violence awareness month, I felt compelled to share this.

I Am a Survivor of Domestic Violence and I Know Help is Out There:

Are you being abused?

It’s abuse when someone who should care about you does or says things that hurt you or make you feel afraid, helpless or worthless. Here are only a few examples:

  • Slapping, hitting, punching, choking, grabbing, shoving, kicking you or your kids, your pets
  • Threatening you, your kids, friends, family or pets
  • Hitting, kicking, slamming walls, doors, furniture, possessions
  • Forcing you to have sex
  • Calling you names, swearing at you, yelling
  • Controlling all the money, even money you earn
  • Blaming you or your kids for everything
  • Putting you down, making you feel like nothing you do is ever good enough
  • Treating you like a servant or slave
  • Controlling where you go, what you do, what you wear
  • Controlling who you see, who you talk to
  • Humiliating you in front of other people
  • Refusing to let you leave the relationship

If you are in danger call 911, a local hotline, or the U.S. National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1-800-799-7233 and TTY 1-800-787-3224.

 

Friday Night Fun

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Day 26) Your Favorite Disney Original Movie (DCOM)

Now when I was a kid we actually had great shows on TV; such as Boy Meets WorldEven Stevens, Sister Sister, Lizzie McGuire, etc. Not like today:

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I mean Dog with a Blog? Really? Really Disney? JessieANT Farm, etc. all suck.

Best the best thing was the DCOMs. I loved the Friday nights when they would show these awesome films. So instead of picking just one film, as that is far too difficult, I’m going to list out my favs.

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16) The Paper Brigade (1997)

Paper Brigade

Gunther is new in town and trying to fit in. He wants to go to a concert, with the school hottie, and tries to find a way to make the cash. He gets a paper brigade and is rolling in the dough, (I remember thinking, do paperboys really make that much money?). Some bullies try to take him down and in true Braveheart fashion, he defends his turf.

Paper brigade

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15) Under Wraps (1997)

Under Wraps

This was a hilarious film about three kids discovering a mummy. I won’t say any more because I will be talking about this film more this October during Horrorfest III. Come back and check it out.

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14) Johnny Tsunami (1999)

-JohnnytsunamifilmJohnny a surfing Hawaiian boy who is forced to move from his surf and sunny beaches for ice-cold Vermont. There he finds himself sticking out in a town full of snowboarders or skiers. He clashes with the others, but also befriends one snowboarder. He and a skier have a fight over the school hottie, and race against each other to win rights.

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13) Brink (1998)

Disney_-_BrinkWhen I was growing up I had a huge crush on the movie surfer Erik von Detten, so I was totally into this film as it starred him. This film is about rollerblading, which every kid in the ’90s loved (whether or not they actually could roller blade). It actually is based on the book Hans Brinker and the Silver Skates, one of my favs as a kid.

So Andy “Brink” Brink, is a great skater who does it for the love of the sport. When his family falls on hard financial times, he sells out and joins Team X-Bladz, changing as he gets money and fame. Eventually Brink realizes his mistakes and who his real friends are, leaving the X-Bladz.

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12) Susie Q (1996)

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Story of a 1950s girl who is killed on her prom night in a car crash, only to have her spirit reawaken 40 years later to make sure that her parents don’t lose their house. Meanwhile, Zach is an everyday high school student who is dealing with the death of his dad and a move to a new town. His family moves into Susie’s house, where he finds her charm bracelet which enables him to see and communicate with her. The two team up with his little hacker sister and try to take on the evil guy who is trying to kick people out of their homes so he can set up a shopping mall. It is a hilarious film! I remember that I loved the story, and her dress, along with the fact that the pink ranger was in it.

pink ranger kimberly

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11) The Thirteenth Year (1999)

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I have to admit I went through a phase where I thought I too was going to turn into a mermaid, and what better to increase my interest/obsession than this film? So the story is about popular, top swimmer, Cody and how during his 13th birthday he starts turning into a mermaid or merman.

He was adopted as a baby and only now is transforming as 13 is when mermaids become adults (no wonder Ariel was like I’m an adult I’m in love). His friend Sean tries to hep him understand what’s going on, when they soon face the bigger threat of people discovering his abilities and trying to do experiments on him. Everything is eventually resolved with him deciding that he will take turns living with both parents (adopted and his mer-mother who finds him).

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10) Alley Cats Strike (2000)

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This was a big fav as a kid. I absolutely loved this film and Kyle Schmid (I feel like I say that a looot). So Alex (Schmid), Elisa, Delia, and Ken are these kids who are into retro clothing and bowling, (not very in crowd). Everything changes for them when their school competes in a series of athletic events for the town trophy and finds themselves tied.  The tiebreaker is determined to be bowling. Todd, the most popular and athletic kid in school, joins the team to lead the group to victory. Only prob is, he sucks. The team struggles to fit him in, as they find him causing trouble within the group. 

Bowling Alley  Cats Strike

 

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9) Mom’s Got a Data With a Vampire (2000)

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Love this film so much. Some kids accidentally set their mom up on a date with a Vampire and have to save her from being killed! It is an awesome film and I will talk about more during Horrorfest III. Check back this October.

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8) Teen Beach Movie (2013)

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Okay so this is a new DCOM, and I know it totally contradicts my earlier rant about Disney sucking today, but I just loved this film. When I was growing up, ’60s Beach movies were my absolute favorite. I loved Frankie Avalon and Annette Funicello. The songs, the campiness of it all. So when I saw Disney was going to do a parody film, I was super excited!

So this isn’t the first time this has been done. Sabrina the Teenage Witch did an episode where they go to Florida for Spring Break and have “Good, clean, fun.” In this film, Brady (Ross Lynch) and his girlfriend Mack are having loads of fun surfing, until Brady finds out that Mack is going away to finishing school. When the two ride a 40-foot wave, they find themselves in Brady’s favorite film, the 1960s Wet Side Story. Hilarity ensues as the two find themselves in the middle of a biker and surfer fight, singing, surfing, and having some “good, clean, fun.”

Cute guys, great music, and absolutely fabulous 1960s clothes.

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7) Smart House (1999)

Smart House

I loved this movie so much as a kid! I totally wanted this house, I thought it would be so cool to live there (you know before it went crazy). But this film holds an even greater place in my heart as it truly captures my childhood/pre-teen time of my life. The music, clothes, food, etc.

So in this film this engineer/computer scientist creates a program that runs a house to fulfill your every command. She holds a contest to get the house, in which Ben Cooper and his family win. Even though Mrs. Cooper died a while ago, Ben becomes angry when his father begins dating the house designer, Sara Barnes. He tweaks with the program so it is more motherly, creating a dangerous machine that tries to imprison them. This film is also surprisingly based on a literary work, “The Veldt” by Ray Bradbury. I loved the idea of having a house like this, along with having a huge crush on Ryan Merriman. 

ryan

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6) Luck of the Irish (2001)

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Disney plays this film every March 17th, and I am so glad as it is hilarious. Kyle is the golden child; captain of the basketball team, straight-A student, and Lady Luck always seems to be smiling down at him. However that all changes when Kyle’s lucky coin is stolen from him. He then discovers that his mother’s family are leprechauns and that coin held their family luck, also allowing them to walk about the Earth looking like normal humans. With his mom shrinking, and him becoming shorter and more leperchauny ever minute, he sets out to track down the thief and restore his family luck.

So I love this film, and I actually have another post all detailed on it. I had a huge crush on Ryan Merriman, leprechaun or human
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For more on Luck of the Irish, go to Pot o’ Gold

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5) Wish Upon a Star (1996)

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This story is about two sisters; the elder being pretty and popular, while the younger brainy, short, and insecure. The two wish to be the other as each thinks the other has an easy life.  But when their wish comes true and they switch bodies, they discover that there is more to each other than they originally thought. I just love the portrayal of their relationships and how they are able to work through their problems and bond in the end.

Wish Upon a Star

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4) Stepsister from Planet Weird (2000)

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So in this film two gas formed aliens flee their country for Earth. There the father, Earth name Cosmo Cola, meets Earth woman Kathy Larson and the two fall in love deciding to get married. Kathy’s daughter doesn’t want this to happen as she finds Cosmo and his daughter Ariel to be freaks. Ariel doesn’t want her father to fall in love and marry Kathy as she still hopes to return home, and to her boyfriend Fanul. It is a hilarious film as the aliens try to adapt to Earth and end up having to save the planet.

I just love how cool Ariel seems to everyone, when she isn’t even trying. but just being herself (thank you Disney). I also copied the layered look from her, which did become a major thing. But I have to say the biggest takeaway for me was her line “I fear the wind.” Since they are gas forms, they hate the wind as it kills them. My sis and I would go around saying that every time it was windy, especially when it messed with our hair.

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3) Motorcrossed (2001)

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This is a modern retelling of Twelfth Night and is one of my absolute favs. When Andrew is injured and can’t compete in the motorcross competition and the family is in trouble, Andrea cuts her hair and pretends to be  Andrew to save the day. Of course, problems arise as she can’t have anyone find out who she is, and starts to fall in love with her friend who thinks she’s a guy.

Andrea pre-haircut and post-haircut.

Andrea pre-haircut and post-haircut.

Plus I had a huge crush on Riley Smith. 🙂

Riley Smith

For more on Motocrossed, go to Disney Lesson

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2) Zenon: Girl of the 21st Century (1999)

Zenon Girl of the 21st C

I loved this movie so much as a kid. My love for it was so great that I sat through its excruciating painful sequels. So this film is about Zenon, girl of the 21st century who lives in a Space Station. She gets in trouble and is grounded (literally as she is sent to earth). While there she discovers an evil plot to destroy the space station, and has to do all she can to save her home. I loved the story, clothes, and expressions used in this film. It was an amazing piece. And after the film came out I used to say this all the time (and still do):

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And who could forget this wonderful song?

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1) Phantom of the Megaplex

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This has to be my favorite DCOM of all! I loved this film so much as a kid! There are so many amazing things involved in it! It’s a very well done modern version of the Phantom of the Opera. It also references so many other movies, that it just makes a cinephile like me squeal in delight! I also had the hugest crush on the lead, Taylor Handley.  I was like 8 or 9 and in love with him. I actually reviewed this film during Horrorfest, so I will keep the synopsis short as you should really check it out.

So the film is about Taylor Handley’s character, Pete Riley, who is assistant manager at the megaplex and is getting ready for a huge film premiere, Midnight Mayhem, at the theater. However, chaos rains down throughout the night as a phantom lurks and tries to cause destruction.

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For more on Phantom of the Megaplex, go to When Horror Doesn’t Stay on the Screen
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For more on Disney, go to I Could Kiss You

For more of my favorite songs, go to The Boys Are Back in Town

For more on bowling, go to Heeeeee’s Back

For more on films in which car crashes play a significant role, go to He’s My Brother

For more on films in which someone disguises themself as a man, go to I’ll Make a Man Out of You

For more on Even Stevens, go to A Very Scary Story

For more films based on a book, go to Oh Oh De Lally

For more on Lizzie McGuirego to Night of the Day of the Dead

For more on mermaids, go to I’m Not Gonna Lose Her Again!

For more on mummies, go to Eternal Punishment for Whoever Opens this Casket

For more on Sabrina the Teenage Witch, go to A River of Candy Corn Runs Through It