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The Stepdaughter

 

Trimark Pictures, VHS, DVD, 1999, PG-13, 1 hr. 32 min.

The Stepdaughter Movie PosterAnyone familiar with the Stepfather movies can guess what this movie is about. Susan Miller (Andrea Roth) was abandoned at birth and subsequently shuffled off to numerous foster families throughout her childhood, where she was mentally and physically abused. Susan makes herself a promise that she will find her birth mother and extract revenge. The movie opens with Susan having discovered that her birth is the sickly Maggie Conner (Cindy Pickett), wife of horse ranch owner Jesse Conner (Gil Gerard), and Susan sets out for the ranch, just outside of L.A.

This movie is predictable, unbelievable, and a little slow. Nevertheless, I did find it mildly entertaining because of Roth's performance. Unlike the protagonist in the Stepfather movies, Susan is not certifiably insane. She is certainly mentally damaged from years of abuse and craving revenge, but you get the sense that with mental help, she could lead a fairly normal life. It was refreshing to see a killer who simply wants to kill to gain revenge, not because they are certifiably insane. In fact, I was kind of rooting for her.

The main problem I had with the movie was how easily Susan was able to enter the lives of the Conner's. She concocts a story about her car running off the road in the middle of the night, and knocks on their door to call a cab. Jesse Conner ends up inviting her to stay the night, and the next day, surprise, surprise, hiring her to work horses at the ranch. Not only do we never get an explanation as to how Susan knows how to train horses, but also it is very hard to believe that the patriarch of the family would open his house and business to this girl from off the street. And while most of the family takes a liking to Susan, Linda Conner, Jesse and Maggie's daughter, takes an inexplicable dislike to Susan and immediately starts checking her background. So basically, there was no reason for the family to instantly like and trust Susan, but also no reason for Linda to immediately dislike her.

Aside from Roth, the rest of the cast is listless. Lisa Dean Ryan might as well have been playing her Doogie Howser character because as far as I could tell, there was really no difference. Everything that came out of her mouth was a whine or a "poor me" comment. Gil Gerard and Cindy Pickett were marginally better but underused, and the simple script didn't do justice to their normally fine acting skills.

The movie also seemed to move very slowly, and then end abruptly. There is no surprise ending, but the way in which the characters react at the end is understated, to say the least. A situation that would make a "normal" family scream and panic, makes this family react as if they were just told they needed new plumbing fixtures.

All in all, a mildly entertaining 92 minutes, but don't expect a ton of suspense or gore.


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QUICK FACTS

Studio

Lions Gate Films

Genre

Thriller / Horror

Rating

R

Length

92 Minutes

Color

Yes

Sound

Yes

 

CAST

Actor / Actress

Character

Andrea Roth

Susan Miller

Lisa Dean

Linda Conner

Jaimz Woolvett

Ryan Buddy Conner

Cindy Pickett

Maggie Conner

Gary Hudson

Paris

Gil Gerard

Jesse Conner

Matt Farnsworth

Will

Lee Dawson

Deputy Tom Gitlin

Bonita Friedericy

Calista Davis

Cherie Franklin

Ms. Clements

Cheryl Francis Harrington

Mousy Inmate

J.J. Boone

Nurse Granger

Christopher Kriesa

Receptionist

Peter Liapis

Conrad

Ray Rodriguez

Hector

 

CREW

Peter Liapis

Director

Larry Gershman

Executive Producer

Anita Gershman

Executive Producer

Maximo Munzi

Director of Photography

Helen Harwell

Production Designer

Warden Neil

Costume Designer

Richard Bowers

Music

www.trimarkpictures.com

Reviewed by: Hauntmistress 4/02/01 

 
         
 
   

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