Saturday, November 23, 2013

The Stepfather - 1987

 
 
 

If your family is far removed from the All American ideals you wish them to have, what do you do?  If your family shows signs of being human and prone to making human mistakes, what do you do?  Discipline by lecture, divorce, or death? 
 
 
In The Stepfather, the concept of the All American Family with the dog and white picket fence, is synonymous   with a dysfunctional family.  I mean lets face it, every family has issues.  Even The Brady Bunch was too normal and happy that it was abnormal in a way.  However, for Jerry Blake, anything less than ideal was deadly.
 
 
Jerry Blake, who altered his identity following every family he married into and murdered, was a prize on the surface.  He was a successful real estate agent, had a pretty and loving wife Susan, and a stepdaughter Stephanie, who was rebellious. It almost seemed as though he was crafted to perfection.  But did "Jerry" or whoever he is, marry into families with the hope of trying to find the ideal one, or did he deliberately marry into families prone to problems following divorce or death, just so he can do away with them?  I guess the answer is obvious or else it wouldn't be a horror movie right?  It is similar to the hunter and the deer scenario.  The deer is vulnerable to being shot and the hunter knows this.  If the deer was in control, the hunter wouldn't bother.  But the hunter has only one will and that is the will to kill.  So obviously knowing the deer is easy prey, he will eventually shoot and kill it.  Stephanie Maine, who lashes out and gets herself into trouble frequently is grieving following the death of her father.  Her confidante is her shrink.  Her resentment stems from abandonment; her father passing and her mother falling in love with another man, and that other man trying to conquer her territory. She is extremely wary of Jerry and trusts him just as much as she trusts a hole in her head.  Somehow, Jerry knows this.  His "killer" instincts tell him that this family is going to be next on his chopping block.  
 
Why did Jerry feel the need to murder a family?  Was it his upbringing? Was he bounced around from family to family?  Hence explains his identity crisis.  Either way he methodically begins to wipe out anybody whom he feels is a threat to his plans, and that includes Stephanie's shrink, Dr. Bondurant whom he bludgeons to death and veers his body off the platform when he figures out the shrink is on to him.  As if Stephanie needs anymore abandonment in her life. 

At some point, I have read, serial murderers tend to get sloppy.  Ted Bundy got caught eventually didn't he?  Killing becomes second nature to you and the more you do it the more you confuse the dates, times, victims, etc.  In Jerry's case, he lost Stephanie's trust after finally winning it following the death of her shrink.  After getting caught in a very important lie by Susan about his job, he forgets his own name!  So now the "family dispute" begins.  This time, there is no stopping him.  Even when his ex-brother in law Jim Ogilvie, finally tracks him down, there goes his final threat that is standing in his way of his plans.  With Susan beaten to a bloody pulp, not quite dead, and Jim Ogilvie being stabbed to death, now the ultimate showdown begins with the one problem that was hindering the All American Family process, Stephanie.  Her rebellion was the biggest source of Jerry's troubles.  Without her, his ideal needs would be met right?  That or as implied before, it was an excuse to kill.  I guess serial murderers get tired of wearing sheep clothing as it gets tighter and tighter on them.  The showdown gets brutal and bloody when Jerry gets shot from behind by Susan after she regains consciousness and of course, this monster of a Stepfather keeps walking towards Stephanie competing for the big kitchen knife.  Rebellion claims victory over family ideals as the reality stabs the fantasy to death.  Jerry's last words being "I love you". 

So how do you sustain family values?  Discipline by lecture? Divorce? Or Death?  Watch out for this Ad in the Personals Section in your daily paper.