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ON FAITH & MEDIA View Comments

The Stepfather

By
John Mulderig
Source: Catholic News Service

"The Stepfather" (Screen Gems) is director Nelson McCormick's tedious remake of Joseph Rubin's 1987 chillfest of the same title which, like its two sequels, received an "O" classification from the Office for Film & Broadcasting. Though the homicidal episodes in this misguided attempt at a reboot are relatively restrained, the moral outlook of the latest version earns it a similar thumbs-down.

Returning home from the military school to which he has been consigned for past unruliness, Michael (Penn Badgley) finds his divorced mother, Susan (Sela Ward), living with, and engaged to, David (Dylan Walsh), a seemingly affable but strangely resume-free fellow she met in a grocery store.

As the audience knows from the opening scenes, and as Michael gradually begins to suspect, David's smiles and pro-family sentiments disguise a murderous agenda, though no coherent motive is ever suggested for his pursuit of it. With viewers thus deliberately tipped off to the mystery man's true identity from the start, the only potential for suspense lies in waiting for the other characters—a remarkably dense lot—to catch up with the audience.

In the interval, we're introduced to Michael's girlfriend, Kelly (Amber Heard), whose wardrobe seems to consist almost entirely of bikinis and underwear, and to Susan's sister, who is involved in a lesbian relationship that J.S. Cardone's script implicitly and matter-of-factly endorses.

Though scenes of Michael and Kelly clinching on his bed or in the backyard pool are not overly explicit, the fact that both are still in high school suggests that such activity is not only maritally but developmentally premature.

The film contains a benign view of homosexual acts, cohabitation, brief nongraphic nonmarital (possibly underage) sexual activity, moderate criminal violence, a half-dozen uses of profanity, and a few crude and crass terms. The USCCB Office for Film & Broadcasting classification is O—morally offensive. The Motion Picture Association of America rating is PG-13—parents strongly cautioned. Some material may be inappropriate for children under 13.

*****
Mulderig is on the staff of the Office for Film & Broadcasting of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops.


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Andrew Dung-Lac and Companions: Andrew Dung-Lac was one of 117 people martyred in Vietnam between 1820 and 1862. Members of this group were beatified on four different occasions between 1900 and 1951. All were canonized by St. John Paul II. 
<p>Christianity came to Vietnam (then three separate kingdoms) through the Portuguese. Jesuits opened the first permanent mission at Da Nang in 1615. They ministered to Japanese Catholics who had been driven from Japan. </p><p>The king of one of the kingdoms banned all foreign missionaries and tried to make all Vietnamese deny their faith by trampling on a crucifix. Like the priest-holes in Ireland during English persecution, many hiding places were offered in homes of the faithful. </p><p>Severe persecutions were again launched three times in the 19th century. During the six decades after 1820, between 100,000 and 300,000 Catholics were killed or subjected to great hardship. Foreign missionaries martyred in the first wave included priests of the Paris Mission Society, and Spanish Dominican priests and tertiaries. </p><p>Persecution broke out again in 1847 when the emperor suspected foreign missionaries and Vietnamese Christians of sympathizing with a rebellion led by of one of his sons. </p><p>The last of the martyrs were 17 laypersons, one of them a 9-year-old, executed in 1862. That year a treaty with France guaranteed religious freedom to Catholics, but it did not stop all persecution. </p><p>By 1954 there were over a million and a half Catholics—about seven percent of the population—in the north. Buddhists represented about 60 percent. Persistent persecution forced some 670,000 Catholics to abandon lands, homes and possessions and flee to the south. In 1964, there were still 833,000 Catholics in the north, but many were in prison. In the south, Catholics were enjoying the first decade of religious freedom in centuries, their numbers swelled by refugees. </p><p>During the Vietnamese war, Catholics again suffered in the north, and again moved to the south in great numbers. Now the whole country is under Communist rule.</p> American Catholic Blog To replace our sins with virtues may seem like a daunting task, but fortunately we can follow the example of the saints who have 
successfully defeated these sins in their lifetimes. They provide us with a way forward so that we, too, can live holy, virtuous lives.

 
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