Stepfather II poster

The insane asylum: the classic plot-device in sequels to justify the return of somebody supposedly killed off at the end of the previous movie. Remember when Michael Meyers was killed in Halloween 2? He was shot multiple times in the head. In the eyes even! That guy was dead, there is no way he could have survived that. Cut to Halloween 4 where he’s alive and well in an insane asylum, because he apparently magically survived all of that. Guess who’s also back in Stepfather 2; Jerry Blake, the maniacal stepfather hellbent on killing his family once they seemed to be unable to live up to his expectations of a perfect family. This guy apparently survived a stab wound directly into heart as well as several gunshot wounds and is now stuck in an insane asylum at the beginning of Stepfather 2. Which really begs the question: shouldn’t he be sitting in death row, or at least some high security prison? This is a guy who killed multiple women and children with premeditation. Not the kind of guy you should put in some insane asylum with the hope of him one day getting well.

It wouldn’t come as a complete surprise to you that Jerry is under the care of a rather liberal psychiatrist who doesn’t think he needs to be in handcuffs and even sends the guard out during his therapy sessions. You can probably guess how well this will work out for the shrink in question. It’s a funny idea: The liberal psychiatrist killed by a deranged conservative who is full of family values and hates sex. The only thing missing is that apparently Jerry isn’t deeply religious, though he did say grace in the previous movie before dinner. But that is as far the political subtext goes.

As the stepfather Terry O’Quinn slides back into the role with confidence and the same chameleonic skills he portrayed the first time around. Sadly he’s given less to work with and is reduced to a slasher in the vein of Jason Voorhees, rather than a Hannibal Lecter. While the movie doesn’t have a really high body count, Stepfather 2 is more focused on putting people in the Stepfather’s way than developing his character further. Not counting the family that was already murdered in the opening scene, the original movie had a body count of only two people. In Stepfather 2 the movie already has a body count of 3 in the first 15 minutes.

I praised the previous movie, while acknowledging that it had some big plot holes. Those plot holes are back on full display here. So in your face they could be part of a “yo mama” joke: “The Stepfather 2 has plot holes so big they could swallow yo mama whole.”

The stepfather might be very intelligent as he seemingly slips into new identities with ease. While there have been plenty of cases of people performing jobs without the required education, it’s quite goofy how easy he changes his identity, job and address whenever he needs to. In Stepfather 2 he escapes from the asylum and ends up in Palm Meadows L.A. where he buys a house under a fake name and starts a marriage council practice. How is this all possible? Doesn’t he ever have to show any identification? The marriage counselor thing is not only tended to be ironic, it’s also funny because suddenly all the women in his neighborhood are having group sessions in his house. It’s like he has a nose for neighborhoods with bad marriages and recently divorced women.

I know that it this sort of thing has happened in real life. The movie “Catch Me If You Can” starring Tom Hanks and Leonardo DiCaprio revolved around a real life con man who was able to pose as a pilot, pediatrician and even a lawyer without having any education. That movie also showed us how he actually faked doing all those jobs and was set in the 50’s, when paperwork was easier to falsify. In The Stepfather’s case it’s never really that convincing how he can set up all those identities. When the goal is to marry someone, surely some identification would be required.

Stepfather 2 is a decent sequel, but a lot more dumbed down compared to the original.