Michael Harding returns home from military school to find his mother happily in love and living with her new boyfriend, David. As the two men get to know each other, Michael becomes more and more suspicious of the man who is always there with a helpful hand. Is he really the man of her dreams or could David be hiding a dark side?
***What if your stepfather is a psycho?*** After an amiable man (Dylan Walsh) slays his family he starts a new one under a different identity in Portland, Oregon, but his discerning stepson (Penn Badgley) picks up on his dark side. Sela Ward plays the psycho’s new fiancé while Amber Heard is on hand as the stepson’s girlfriend. "The Stepfather" (2009) is a solid crime drama/thriller with a bit o' slasher horror, a combination of the original film (1987) and its sequel (1989). All of the Stepfather flicks are loosely based on mass murderer John List. They contain elements of movies like "Psycho" (1960/1998) mixed with coming-of-age drama, like “Fright Night” (1985) and “Disturbia” (2007). Walsh effectively portrays the delusional titular character while Badgley is competent as the teen protagonist. Meanwhile the director takes every opportunity to show Heard in a bikini or underwear, but she’s way too thin to stir much interest despite her obvious attractiveness. She’s more appealing after she acquired some curves, e.g. as Mera in “Aquaman” (2018). At the end of the day this is an updated, slightly more compelling version of the first film and its sequel. There are just enough changes to make it worthwhile if you’re familiar with the prior flicks. On the downside, it’s a little predictable, but what else is new? The film runs 1 hour, 40 minutes, and was shot in Los Angeles & Santa Clarita, California (with studio work done in Culver City). GRADE: B+