Terry O’Quinn returns in this sequel that finds a healed Jerry in a high security mental institution. He eventually breaks out and assumes the role of psychologist Gene Clifford (which will turn out to be a poor choice later in the film for a pretty obvious reason). While leading a therapy group for divorced women, he finds Carol Grayland (Meg Foster) and her son Todd (the late Jonathan Brandis). He starts building a relationship with them while her friend Matty (genre veteran Caroline Williams) starts to look into Gene’s background.
While Todd seems to like Gene, Carol is more prone to question things. Though she is good at pushing those concerns aside, even when Matty is pressing buttons.
Like the first film, the primary focus is the state of mind of the Stepfather. It is simple mistakes that interfere with his family, and his attempts to fix it only make it worse. Carol trusts him less and less, and the moment when she realizes that Gene is a killer is very well done. It involves the running theme of the films where the Stepfather whistles Camptown Ladies.
Director Jeff Burr had the film chopped up against his desire. The Weinstein Brothers felt that it tested poorly and needed more blood. The re-shoots were done without Burr or O’Quinn as both refused to participate. In spite of this, Stepfather 2 is still a pretty fine follow-up focused overall less on bloodiness and more the characters. It is a decent follow up to the original and still an enjoyable thriller.
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