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The Stepfather Review Critics


Dave White Profile

Making psychotic murder dull again. Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 2.0

    out of 100

    Generally unfavorable reviews
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 30

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    This remake turns a fondly remembered horror/thriller into a mild and tedious suspense film.

    Read Full Review

  • 50

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    The trouble with the movie, apart from its rather monotonous dourness of tone, is that everyone in the family, especially the reformed-delinquent high school son (Penn Badgley), comes off as tougher, smarter, and quicker on the draw than the stepfather who's supposed to be outfoxing them.

    Read Full Review

  • 50

    out of 100

    The New York Times Stephen Holden

    A clumsy remake of the 1987 cult thriller.

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  • 60

    out of 100


    McCormick's Stepfather boasts a decent script by J.S. Cardone, but it seems to have been made in a bubble, as if nothing had transpired in the world of slasher/horror since the late Donald Westlake ("The Grifters") wrote the much-respected original.

    Read Full Review

  • 70

    out of 100

    Los Angeles Times Kevin Thomas

    Tthe film is all of a piece, a handsome, thoughtfully crafted production that generates a mounting terror securely anchored by assured performances, consistent psychological persuasiveness and believable dialogue. What's most chilling about The Stepfather is that it was inspired by an actual incident in New Jersey in 1971.

    Read Full Review

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

Iffy for 14+

Horror remake has more tension than blood.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that this thriller/horror remake of 1987's The Stepfather has plenty of tension, scares, and violence, though most of it is relatively bloodless. Three murders take place on screen (as well as fighting, attacks, etc.), and several other dead bodies are shown. Characters talk a lot about how families move on after divorce and loss, and there's some sensuality (a lot of kissing and skimpy swimsuits), underage drinking, and salty language. A supporting character is in a committed same-sex relationship. Also, this review is for the rated, theatrical version. There are unrated versions available.

  • Families can talk about how the violence in this movie compares to bloodier horror films like the Saw series. Do the different types of violence have different impact? Is one scarier than the other?
  • What are the challenges that real families face whenmoving on after divorce and loss? Is any of what the on-screen familygoes through relatable?
  • Why do you think Hollywood is so fond of remaking horror movies? Whatmotivates them?

The good stuff
  • message true0

    Messages: You could argue that the movie has a message about family sticking together, but any real positive content is lost amid the violence and tension.

  • rolemodels true0

    Role models: Although the film features a character who stresses the importance of family above all, he happens to be a psychotic killer. On the brighter side, the teen hero is a steadfast young man trying to cope with his family's divorce and his own reactions to it.

What to watch for
  • violence false4

    Violence: Three bloodless murders take place on screen (the victims are thrown down stairs, suffocate, and drown). Several dead bodies, including three children, are seen in a killer's wake. Also beatings, fighting, chases, a knife attack, falls, and a stabbing with a shard of mirror to the neck, with some blood.

  • sex false3

    Sex: Some swimsuit-clad kissing and sounds of hanky-panky being initiated (implied sex). Plenty of skimpy outfits; one female character spends the majority of the film in swimwear.

  • language false2

    Language: Some strong language, including "goddamn," "damn," "screwing," "ass," and the finger being given.

  • consumerism false0

    Consumerism: Not an issue

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Characters drink beer, wine, and hard liquor. An older man offers a minor two shots of tequila in an attempt to bond. A sleeping pill is taken.