A consistently intelligent (or at least bright), coherently constructed comedy that is on occasion a rather pointed critique of the American education system in the…
He's one of those guys with a bland smile and a voice so nice and sweet that right away you know he's twisted. He has a knack for convincing women to marry him, but children see him with clearer eyes, and know there's something wrong. There sure is. Battling inside of him are two conflicting obsessions: the desire to be the perfect father of a model family, and a towering rage that turns him into a killer.
"The Stepfather" tells his story in a blood-soaked thriller that is uneven but haunting. While I was watching the film, I was distracted by elements of the Idiot Plot Syndrome - moments when only an idiot would have made such obvious mistakes. Now, remembering the film several weeks after first seeing it, what I recall most clearly is the central performance by Terry O'Quinn.
He is a journeyman actor from TV and many movies, usually in supporting roles, and you may or may not recognize him. What's clear at once is that he is a strong actor, and given this leading role he brings all kinds of creepy dimensions to it. He has the thankless assignment of showing us a completely hateful, repellent character - and he approaches the task as an exercise in cloying middle-class good manners.
The stepfather seems to be such a nice man. So understanding. So accommodating. He always marries into families with children - providing a strong shoulder for a widow to lean on. He's handy around the house. He likes to spend time in his basement workshop, where sometimes the pressure builds up so intensely that he has to smash things.