The Stepfather is, in one respect, simply another 1980s horror film, albeit one buoyed by a strong lead performance by Terry O’Quinn as a stepdad who likes to murder his adopted family once they cease living up to his expectations. And yet Joseph Ruben’s surprisingly resonant and durable tale also cannily reflects, in a larger way, the era of its creation, both in its critique of Ronald Reagan’s attempt at reviving ‘50s-era family values, as well as in its ability to tap into the terrifying instability and identity confusion felt by adolescents confronted with parental divorce and remarriage. Ruben doesn’t attempt to mask the psychosis of Jerry Blake (O’Quinn), opening his film with a beautifully orchestrated sequence in which Blake shaves off his beard, gets dressed, puts a stray doll into a toy box, and then passes by a decimated living room littered with the corpses of his clan. A year later, Blake has happily established himself as the head of a new family, though problems arise thanks to teenage Stephanie’s (Jill Schoelen) distrust of her new daddy. Blake has a schizophrenic freak-out in a basement and – as befitting an old-fashioned nutjob with serious sex-related issues – goes bonkers upon catching Stephanie kissing a boy, but The Stepfather almost completely refuses to reductively explain the origins of Blake’s lunacy. Instead, he’s simply cast as a cross between Norman Bates and Jack Torrance, embodied with disconcerting cheeriness by O’Quinn and provided ample opportunities for malevolence by Ruben’s B-grade Hitchockian set pieces.