It’s time again for Catie Rhodes and I to break down another cinematic original and its remake – this month, we discuss The Stepfather.
First, I must applaud Catie’s homemade summary for the 1987 thriller:
Jerry Blake is in search of the American Dream. Somewhere out there is a house surrounded by a white picket fence and a family who will live up to his expectations. And if Jerry’s family doesn’t live up to his expectations, he’ll murder them and start over again.
And in keeping with Catie’s style, here’s a taste of the most recent, The Stepfather (2009):
When I first watched the trailer, I had no idea this film was a remake. I saw the stars of the movie (each from past and current day television programs that I highly enjoy) and the premise of the movie, and I was hooked! Not to mention, you know you’re aging when you have just as much of a crush on the dads of the film as you do the young actor playing the teenage son…
Now for a few differences between the original and the remake:
Jerry Blake is now Grady Edwards, or David Harris (played by Dylan Walsh, Nip/Tuck). We can’t be sure of his real name because he has changed it each time he has murdered his family and attempted to move on with his life.
David meets Susan (Sela Ward, CSI: NY) in a grocery store where he discovers his next opportunity — his next American Dream — a single mother with two young children, a boy and a girl. He introduces himself, she invites him to dinner, and the happiness commences.
That is until Susan’s oldest son, Michael (Penn Badgley, Gossip Girl), returns home from military school. Apparently, Michael didn’t respond well to his mother and father’s (Jon Tenney, The Closer) divorce, so Mama sent him away to give Michael time to contemplate whether or not his acting out was the best way for him to deal with his life changes.
Michael is ecstatic to be home, but he’s not thrilled about David — he doesn’t like the speed with which David has courted his mother; and David makes him uncomfortable when he invites Michael down to the now padlocked basement for a shot of tequila for the two to bond over. But Michael’s girlfriend (Amber Heard, Playboy Club) convinces him to give David a chance — after all, his mother has been so happy since David came into her life, and she doesn’t want Michael shipped back to military school.
Everything in David’s new world is perfect — Susan’s sister (Paige Turco, Person of Interest) hires him at her lucrative real estate agency; he and Susan will soon marry; and it seems he has successfully escaped his life as Grady Edwards.
That is until the neighbor sees a man resembling David on America’s Most Wanted. Of course this neighbor loves to gossip, so Susan laughs her off. But not David. No, he can’t have a nosy old woman sticking her nose where it doesn’t belong. So he does what he does best — he murders her.
It’s also about this time that Michael and Michael’s father begin questioning the new man in Susan’s life. And they aren’t the only ones…
Why is the basement padlocked now that David lives in the house?
And since the basement door is already padlocked, why are the brand new shelving units that David built down there also padlocked?
Why does David call his deceased daughter by two different names?
Why doesn’t he have any form of identification to provide to his boss for his required government tax documents?
Catie mentions in her post that including the POV of the brother of Jerry’s dead wife saves the predictability of the 1987 film. The same can’t be said for the 2009 remake.
What’s not predictable? The fact that David escapes at the end… I honestly didn’t see that one coming. Of course, had I known at the time that there was an original and subsequent sequels as I watched The Stepfather (2009) for the first time, perhaps the ending would not have surprised me the way that it did.
But here’s the best part — The Stepfather movies are loosely inspired by actual events. Has anyone ever heard of John List? John List murdered his entire family and then walked away — vanished into thin air. For more on List, click over to Catie’s blog today and read all about him on her Freaky Friday post.
What do you think? Have you seen either the original or the remake of The Stepfather? If you’ve seen both, which do you prefer and why? If you haven’t, do you want to? I’d love to hear from you!
Remember to stop by Catie’s blog discussing the original if you haven’t already.