The stepfather remains a timely satire of traditional values

Watching Terry O’Quinn descend into a murderous fury The Stepfather is akin to watching a storm brewing: from the start, there is no doubt about his sanity, his moral character, or his ability and willingness to commit heinous crimes to protect his fragile belief, but while his mask of timid domesticity begins to crack, revealing the insidious face beneath it’s impossible to look away. Thanks largely in part to O’Quinn’s monumental performance, the film works like a slasher picture, if campy at times. But the real meat on the bones of the movie is the layered script. As The Stepford wives, The Ice Stormand Vivarium, Joseph RubenThe 1987 slasher tackles contemporary suburban life while putting together a poignant message. Hidden under the freshly mowed lawns of Step-fathermuch like the metaphorical hordes of beetles crawling viciously through Blue Velvetis a horrifying truth: the preservation of a traditional American family and all of its values ​​invariably comes at a price.


What is “The Stepfather” about?

Step-father is a violent and biting satire of Reaganist values ​​and those who blindly protect them. Jerry Blake (Terry O’Quinn) is a traditionalist at heart, a man of simple pleasures. More than anything, he would love to sit down for a good Thanksgiving dinner with his loving family. He barbecues, is hospitable, and gives speeches of gratitude when his friends and neighbors show up. He builds birdhouses and sticks them on his lawn. He spends time looking sane and innocent Mr. Ed reruns laughing out loud. These squeaky clean features don’t last, however. They can not. It depends too much on others staying as unquestionably true to his traditionalism as he does. Blake’s passivity is circumstantial. He is pleasant only when things correspond to his ideal.

In an instant, Blake became a pillar of his community, a walking image of the ideal Ward Cleaver father. In another, he is a whirlwind, an almost unstoppable force that tears through all that opposes him in psychotic fury. He has a perverse obsession with maintaining his traditional family. The idea that he is dissolving into something else bothers him to the point of violence. For Blake, the greatest threat to her idyllic suburban life comes from within: her daughter-in-law, Stephanie, a shrewd young woman and symbol of modernity and clarity, feels uneasy about the arrival of Blake in the family. Still in mourning for her father and undergoing increasingly dramatic outbursts at school, she brings up the suggestion of going to boarding school. It just won’t be enough. He won’t allow it.

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Blake’s alleged love for Stephanie is off-putting. She is expected to embrace him like a parent, to love him as she would a father. There’s no room in his family of Christmas cards for anything else. If she goes to boarding school, there is no family. It’s just a wedding. And so Blake’s beloved tradition disintegrates. What is best for her as an individual does not interest her. He is much more interested in booking the family unit by any means necessary.

Despite his traditional values, Blake will do anything to keep his family ‘perfect’, even kill them

By the time he utters a single line of dialogue, we already know what he’s capable of. He’s already slaughtered a family, his family, children and all. In the first scene of the film, he is seen going through the bloody aftermath while happily whistling “Camptown Races” as if he was simply going for a morning walk, as Pierre Lorre hissing “In the hall of the mountain king” between the murder of children in M. From there, he abandons his identity, takes a ferry, and leaves for a suburb of Seattle in hopes of trying again.

Under her new identity, Blake meets the widowed Susan Maine (Shelly To hack), mother of a teenager named Stephanie (Julie Schoelen), and the two quickly marry, much to the chagrin of his new stepdaughter. Blake gets a job selling houses to family men who, at least on the face of it, are living the kind of life he approves of. They are married. They have children. They work good, honest jobs and are American taxpayers, family men, true models of tradition. He sees homes as places to start a family. Halfway through the image, Stephanie’s psychiatrist (Charles Layer) poses as a single man looking for a house in order to arrange a screening with Blake and analyze it. Only, Blake is shocked by the idea that a man without family buys such a residence. “Houses like this really should have a family,” he says.

That’s all it is to Blake: family. It stays true to the outdated family models of 1950s television where men, women and children have pre-established roles in the home and in society at large. That’s all he cares about. When he kills, he does it for a purpose, however twisted. This isn’t some mindless slasher smashing its way through a cul-de-sac like an embodiment of pure evil. He wants-Needseven – to maintain its carefully constructed image of a happy American family, the kind you’d see on Christmas cards and in half-faded Polaroids.

While discussing the recent horrific murders he clerk (incognito, of course, since no one knows he’s a killer under his secret identity), he coolly shrugs with an explanation, “maybe they let him down.” This is as simple a pattern as possible. The house of cards he had precariously built had crumbled and he had no interest in salvaging the consequences. For him, it’s useless. The dream is over, the illusion dissolved. His former family, no longer of any use to him, is just getting rid of, and the cycle repeats itself when he meets the Maines.

With Maines, Blake fails to carve his perfect home, though it’s not for lack of trying. The recurring image of the birdhouse symbolizes Blake’s intention to create a quaint home for himself and his family. Unlike a real family, a birdhouse can be built perfectly and flawlessly. He can stand on his lawn and proclaim to anyone who sees him that a happy family lives there. Ironically, this is how Blake also builds his families. It is a facade. There is nothing there. He grasps in vain concepts that are destined to change. In reality, there is nothing wrong with Stephanie going to boarding school. In fact, it would probably be good for her. It could give her the space she needs to mourn her father, to become an adult. But this does not respect tradition.

Boarding school is an arbitrary plot point that could have been any number of things while still retaining its importance. It’s not the boarding school itself, but the very concept that Stephanie would leave her “parents” alone that bothers Blake. He has the same disdain for the idea that Stephanie is getting old. Her growing interest in romantic things also bothers Blake, as seen when he finds her kissing her boyfriend (I f Schultz) on the doorstep one evening. Ruthless and stern, Blake steps in and breaks off the tender moment in disgust. “You could go to jail…that girl is sixteen years!” Blake threatens. “So I am!” replies the boy shyly.

Blake has no patience for the boys with his new daughter

Stephanie sharing her first kiss with her boyfriend is an innocent moment. They are two young people with a common love interest. As teenagers, they do like teenagers and express their affection and attraction through physical means. However, Blake sees this as something perverse. He is stuck in his old-fashioned ideologies where such behavior is vulgar. For him, this goes against the primordial meaning of life: to found a family, a classic family, and to live with it for the rest of his life. That’s all he wants to do. That’s why he works, that’s why he keeps a job and that’s why he sells houses. “Sometimes I really believe what I’m selling is the American dream,” he cheerfully tells his friends and neighbors at his barbecue, and he’s absolutely means this. But, it is why they call it the american dream, like george Pug always says “because you have to be asleep to believe it”.

Blake has no ability to accept the fact that the traditional American family is largely outdated. Times are bound to change, and change, while daunting, is often a good thing. Letting go of certain traditional American values ​​– or concepts that once made the country what it is, for better or for worse – offers the country and all its inhabitants new opportunities. It enables education. It allows insertion. It allows people to listen to other opinions, ideas, concepts. It allows people to become more tolerant, less strict and uncompromising in their ideals.

However Step-father critically reflective of the Reagan-era politics of returning to tradition, its satirical edge will continue to retain its bite as long as such unwavering devotions to tradition endure. Blake’s obsession with past eras is eerily familiar to the great waves of the contemporary political landscape. Cries for a return to vaguely defined glory days force a misunderstanding of progress, vilifying a procedure that is by its very definition something beneficial.

“The Stepfather” Isn’t a Time Capsule From a Long Time Ago

In 2022, Step-father is not a time capsule from a distant era, it is a sober and truthful reflection of the damaging nature of traditionalism. Through Blake’s psychotic rampage, there’s something to be learned: Change is inevitable, and it’s often a good thing. We can learn from the past. We can improve on it.

At the end of Step-father, Blake fails to preserve his concept of family. His wife and daughter-in-law overcome his tyrannical rule and together they build something different but better. They don’t care about keeping things the way they were just for the sake of preservation. Instead, they can move on and thrive. Blake’s very existence is a facade built on barbaric violence and he doesn’t mind dishonesty. That’s all he knows. When, after overcoming the imminent threat of violence from her stepfather, Stephanie tears down the birdhouse they had both erected, she frees herself from the constraints of an idyllic but false lifestyle. It’s a liberating moment and something to be inspired by.

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