Parents' Guide to

The Stepfather

By James Rocchi, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 16+

Horror remake has more tension than blood.

Movie PG-13 2009 101 minutes
The Stepfather Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 14+

Based on 8 parent reviews

age 17+

crime thriller - bloodless

this film succeed to make me pause and take a deep breath and get ready for what happening next. I enjoyed the first mid, it just the end I expected to be something clearer but it wasn't.

This title has:

Too much violence
age 13+

The Stepfather Review

I wanted to like this movie. It a a meh film. Almost goreless. Very dissapointing but I did like the tension but it was not enough to keep me hook. I giving The Stepfather a 5/10

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (8):
Kids say (27):

The best thing about The Stepfather remake is still the central idea about a man trying to make the perfect family via a very unusual methodology. The second best is Walsh's performance, which veers between bland affability and ice-cold fury at the flick of a switch. Director Nelson McCormick (who previously remade another '80s chiller, Prom Night, far less notably) at least knows when to get out of the way of the story and his star and let them do the work.

Unfortunately, McCormick tries to have it both ways by keeping the scares in The Stepfather low-key and predictable (for example, Michael's younger siblings are ushered off-stage for thefilm's climax, kept ata distance from the peril and bloodshed) -- as if he were hedging his own bets. Badgley and co-star Amber Heard make a nice duo of slow-to-doubt teens, and Ward anchors the film with an optimism that turns to concern as the facade of her fiancee's perfection crumbles in the light of the facts. The Stepfather isn't incompetent, grimly clueless, or actively bad -- it's just unnecessary and more than a little unimpressive in the unique light of the original.

Movie Details

  • In theaters: October 16, 2009
  • On DVD or streaming: February 9, 2010
  • Cast: Amber Heard, Dylan Walsh, Penn Badgley
  • Director: Nelson McCormick
  • Inclusion Information: Bisexual actors
  • Studio: Screen Gems
  • Genre: Horror
  • Run time: 101 minutes
  • MPAA rating: PG-13
  • MPAA explanation: intense sequences of violence, disturbing images, mature thematic material and brief sensuality
  • Last updated: February 18, 2023

Inclusion information powered by

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

See how we rate