The Stepfather - Set Visit Report

The Stepfather - Set Visit Report
Dylan Walsh dons his paternity suit to play the new Stepfather
Updated: 07-08-2009
Dylan Wash, best-known for his precise plastic surgery as Dr. Sean McNamara on the ever-popular "Nip/Tuck", will soon be slicing and dicing as the title character in the re-do of an 80s cult classic also called The Stepfather.
The original Stepfather starred Terry O'Quinn (currently playing John Locke on "Lost") as the bad dad, Shelley Hack as his adoring new spouse, and a sweetly sexy, shower-loving Jill Schoelen was his substitute daughter… subbing for the ones he'd killed in the past.
Loosely based upon the creepy case of real-life love 'em and leave 'em dead slayer John List (John Locke, John List… hmmm), both Stepfathers recreate the same scenario: a dissatisfied married man kills his first family unit, disappears, and preys upon a newly-single mom to try and fulfill his insatiable fantasy of the perfect picket fence life. Unlike List, however, these step-in hubbys do it over and over, killing and killing.
Dylan Walsh in The Stepfather
"Daddy's home!"
At this moment in David Harris's (Walsh) life, he's found recently-dumped and divorced Susan (Sela Ward), and is in the process of wooing and (hopefully) wedding her when her teenage son Michael intervenes with his unrelenting suspicion. Something is just not right with this guy who swoops in for the rescue, and is seemingly too good to be true. "The idea is that Michael is a very troubled kid," Badgley told us between takes on the set, during the filming of a particularly intense fight scene.
"It is never said in the script," a bedraggled Badgley explained, but "Michael was on a downward spiral ever since his parents divorced and he has been in military school for maybe a year, or a little longer. So when he comes back, the dynamic between his mother and his new stepfather, and even his brother and sister, is very awkward. He feels like an alien in his own family, in his own house.
"Then there is the line to walk once he becomes suspicious of David. The only one he can really talk to is his girlfriend [played by Amber Heard] but he doesn't want to alienate her as well, because it sounds like he's crazy. Put that in the real world. You know the whole time-balancing the absurdity of it, like… Alright, if I actually thought this, what would I say and who would I tell? So it has to be believable that he wouldn't tell his mother and he wouldn't tell his brother and sister [about his fears]."
Walsh, sitting to the side of Ward and Badgley during the interview break (and oozing fake blood from a nasty-looking neck wound), offers, "I feel like it's a David Harris movie [in the character's mind] and that he sort of got caught up in it, for whatever reason. He acts like he is in a more 1950s family dynamic, where he is the captain, he is the king. He sits at the head of the table. He tells them what to do and they do it. There is this whole new thing that is going on where there is gray areas and you sort of negotiate back and forth. There is a clash between two different ways of going about being a family."
Penn Badgley in The Stepfather
Does this mean I'm grounded?
Unlike the uber-gory and topless (take that word any way you like) original, director Nelson McCormick (Prom Night remake) is going for a eerier, more implied PG-13 vibe. His cast seem to agree that it is a good idea. Walsh said, "With this story, I think the simpler, the better. This is a tense thriller. You know from the get-go that he is the killer. The first thing you see is him surrounded by a dead family."
Ward adds, "Remember, it is all based in truth. So it's not like it's a slasher movie or a guy with a chainsaw hacking everybody up. It is based in truth, and you play truthfully, because it could happen to anyone. I think that is why it is going to be so unnerving, because women [can get deceived]. I mean someone lonely, divorced, a single parent so desperate for attention and help — you can easily see why this charming man sort of sweeps her off her feet. It is very believable, I think."
Walsh sums it up, "This is really a different type of thrill and a different type of horror. It's an intense dread. Like I said, you know who the killer is in the beginning. In that simplicity I think it's going to find its strength and something new that audiences haven't seen in a bit. There is a Hitchcockian theme that we were going for, and I think we might achieve something like that. It is deliberately shot in a lot of wide angles, slow movement, and when it is not, it is very tight and quick and I think that Nelson is handling it very well. So hopefully, it will offer a type of thriller that people haven't seen for a little while, and it will be a welcome change."
We'll all get to see for ourselves when Sony Screen Gems' The Stepfather opens nationwide on October 16.
See the trailer for the film and get updates at the official The Stepfather website,
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