This review is of the TV-14 edited version of the film. All thoughts below should be addressed as such as a review of the unedited version would be more negative
It’s time for the Stepfather to return for another adventure. How did he survive his wounds from the first film? Well, I guess you could say that he’s just built different. Nothing’s putting him down, at least not right now. Unfortunately this movie is more of the same and so there’s not much good to say about it. It’s your classic slasher film with everyone making some questionable decisions.
The movie starts off with showing us that Jerry is now at an asylum. At least he’s not being allowed to run rampant around the world but it’s a very small consolation at this point because the therapist in charge of him isn’t really the cautious type. He is quickly convinced to let Jerry have his way around the place and gets promptly bumped off. Jerry has to look for a new widow and that isn’t hard either. Carol is very eager to get together with him and the two hit it off. Will she be able to realize what a phony he is in time or will it all be game over for her?
Right off the bat it feels like the film is winking at us a bit. This therapist was just way too trusting. Seriously he got fooled this easily? All it took was Jerry playing on the guy’s ego a bit and he was twisting him around with ease. The guy should have seen this coming and even telling the guard to leave the room was a bit much. You knew the guy was doomed either way but he made it all so easy on Jerry.
Meanwhile I wouldn’t say that Carol looks very good here either. Her friends are right that Carol barely even knows this guy. Sure, most of them are happy either way but this is why you shouldn’t go on the rebound so quickly. Every guy is going to try and appear normal at first, that part’s obvious. It’s why you gotta take it real slow. Now I’m not saying that you have to take a few years but at least enough time to hopefully really get to know him. The rebound shouldn’t be considered automatic though, like Carol doesn’t absolutely have to find a new man. Maybe she’s happy on her own and that’s completely okay.
It’s why I still find Jerry’s whole gimmick to be annoying because it resides on the assumption that he will find someone who wants to marry him at every town. That feels like it should be a stretch and yet it ends up working out for him every time. It shouldn’t be so easy. Jerry himself is just as insane as always. He does lay on the nice guy act rather thick but I guess everyone just eats it up. It’s too bad he’s saying every line ironically since the whole family message could be rather decent if it was coming from someone else. It just loses all of its weight when he’s saying it.
Matty is Carol’s best friend and you feel bad for her since Carol immediately turns on the lady. You’d think Carol would appreciate how hard Matty was working to try and make sure that everything was good. Instead Carol basically threatens to terminate their friendship. Matty is nice enough where she still keeps on going with the investigation but ultimately makes the mistake of going to Jerry directly about this. When you’ve already proven that someone is lying, why not go straight to the local authorities or if you don’t think they’ll take the stolen identity angle seriously, then tell Carol. Force the issue or make a big stink about it throughout the neighborhood so everybody knows. Confronting the villain one on one is not the way to go about it.
Yeah Carol made it hard on her which is why Carol’s not a great heroine either but this still wasn’t the way to go about it. Todd actually got along with Jerry well enough in this version so the act actually could have worked but ultimately Jerry made too many mistakes and it came back to bite him. Todd was able to step up when it was crunch time. Then you have Phil who shows up to get absolutely wrecked right away. Again, this didn’t make Carol look great since she seemed willing to jump ship and go back to Phil only to rebound with Jerry once again when that guy mysteriously vanished.
The worst part is that Phil didn’t seem like he was going to be a great guy either, he was just going to be better than Jerry and that’s not a tall order to fulfill. Jerry does a good job of covering his tracks but the victims really make this easy on him the whole time. There are a lot of ways to explain their disappearances each time because they ended up meeting with Jerry 1 on 1. You know that eventually things will work out but it always takes quite a while to get to that point.
The film’s fairly violent as you would expect and follows the usual horror formula. Everyone gets bumped off over and over again here. Sometimes it’s almost out of nowhere like a random driver showing up and getting taken out. This time around Jerry even starts to throw in some one liners when he takes the characters down. That was definitely different as I don’t really remember him doing this much in the first film. Maybe he did and I forgot but I don’t think that was the case. This would then continue into the next movie.
Overall, Stepfather II has no real good excuse to get Jerry back onto the field so the whole opening scenes are as contrived as possible. In general the film only barely works because it’s all such a big stretch. Then it stumbles for the rest of the duration anyway with Jerry not being a very interesting villain. Yeah we know he’s crazy but at least in the first film he’s trying to have some kind of plan which is to have a perfect family while here he’s letting everything get in the way of that. It’s almost like he’s sabotaging everything on his own. Just don’t give out so much information that could be easily traced to show that he’s lying. He’s almost better off just claiming amnesia with some of the lies he’s telling here. He should also quit naming such small towns where everybody has heard of everyone. Start saying New York City or something since nobody would be able to verify that so easily back in the day.