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I’m enjoying going back to these Reagan era horror flicks (such as People Under the Stairs) with an older eye and the perspective of history from which to view them. That said, I didn’t find the Stepfather to be the lost classic in which it has been represented. Some of the acting is soap opera terrible, the daughter is pretty unconvincing and, for a serial killing mastermind, the title character sure has a lot of trouble keeping his ID straight. Also, he seems to give up on his goals pretty easily. Seems like it should have taken a little more to push him over the edge considering how doggedly determined he was to have the perfect family. O’Quinn himself brings a great creepiness to his performance but there’s never much presented as to how he gets into these families in the first place. There aren’t any real signs of why anyone trusts him to begin with. Also, his sub-Doc Savage disguise skills seem pretty hokey to keep him one step ahead of even the small town cops, or the local media, who according to this story aren’t really interested in grisly slaughter of a whole family by the man of the house. But on the other hand, it is easy to see in the modern climate why this story still rings so true to some. Given the absurd clinging to a nuclear family image that rarely if ever existed by certain elements, there does seem to be room for a psychotic backlash from those who find out the hard way that they cannot have what does not exist. So, there is merit to the ideas of the film, but the execution is lacking and the story takes many shortcuts where it can’t otherwise fill in the gaps. 3 stars
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