Wednesday, November 5, 2014

The Stepfather ★1/2

    There are some pictures that should never, in the realm of logic and sound reasoning, be re-fashioned in any sense of the word. Rationally, there are two conditions in which this notion should be fulfilled. Firstly, if the original, in which this burden now bestowed is based upon, was simply not thought provoking or structurally significant. Secondly, and most importantly, a film should never be revamped if it is to offer nothing to the dominion that is film-making.

    "The Stepfather" is unequivocally an offender of this train of thought.

    We are introduced to our antagonist, a man of numerous faces, in a surprisingly somber and tragic mood. It is here that this film executes two methods of irony. Dramatic irony, which gains its power from the contrast of ignorance and knowledge, as the audience is conscious of some fact that our characters on screen have no awareness. In this particular instance, the reality that David Harris is a cold blooded killer, who is eagerly wanted for his involvement in a family's murder.

    Additionally, there is the issuance of irony of tone, as Harris makes a light breakfast while the pleasant tune of "Holy Night" can be heard and the family, in which he has savagely murdered, lie in pools of their own blood. Thus, these two techniques are arguably the only thing that resembles quality craftsmanship. The rest of the picture is plagued by many handicaps, most notably acting or the lack thereof, and does little to add suspense to an already lethargic atmosphere.

    Subsequently, Harris makes his way to Portland, Oregon, where he begins this sadistic cycle, yet again, of romanticizing widowed or divorced mothers, gaining their trust, and killing them with seemingly no motivation other than individual despondency. He lurks in local supermarkets and garners his victim's attention through the use of good manners and an innocent demeanor. (A collection of traits eerily similar to a real life, and rather inhuman individual, in Ted Bundy.)

    The unfortunate family this time around consists of Susan, a loving and completely naive mother, who doesn't seem the bit unnerved by David's mysterious past, as long as he fulfills her emotional, and assumingly, her physical needs. Susan has two children, which have little to do with anything, and an older son who just arrived back from military school. Michael, who is designated the black sheep of the family, spurs our conflict as he struggles to accept the proclaimed nobility of Harris.

    Consequently, the remainder of the picture remains static and builds upon the son's mistrust. He confers with his air-headed blonde girlfriend (who trounces around in a bikini for blatantly obvious and shallow reasons) about his suspicions, to no avail. Of course, there has to be some way Michael's intuition is justified. Inevitably, we receive this justification through the dialogue of the stepfather. His pessimistic views and insensitive remarks are causes for concern, along with his stalking mentalities and the ability to appear and disappear at the speed of light.

    There are two aspects of the film, among countless other things, that truly highlight its ineptness. One is in regard to plot unification, and the other involves the delicate approach to lighting. Harris is a very detail-orientated person. (This is perceived through several actions, the most humorous of which, involves him correcting the position of a misplaced stapler on a family desk.) And yet, he forgets to close a basement door, as he carries on a barbarous act, and fails to clear the search history of the family computer, after he finds himself on the America's Most Wanted web page.

    This brings us to the fine art of lighting: There is a scene at the family dinner table, in which the overhead lighting provides a horrid result. The stepfather is draped in a bright aura of light and the son, sitting at the opposite end of the table, is enshrouded in darkness, even though the overhead fixture is above the center of the table. Now, if this was to promote a symbolic effect, although highly unlikely, then I will revoke my comments. Nevertheless, "The Stepfather" is an uninspired product and it truly is a mystery how the antagonist never suffered from a stomach ulcer, while he continually repressed his psychotic expressions. Maybe that can be the subject of another hapless enduring.


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