A man, who seems completely normal on the outside, tries desperately to build the perfect family. When the families imperfections rise to the surface, his desire for them dissipates, giving him the murderous urge to eliminate them, not only from his life but from theirs as well.
As the film opens, we see a man doing all the grooming steps one would sometimes do before work. He is shaving, dying his hair, and taking a shower. But he is doing so in a manner that shows that he is doing much more than your typical grooming routine, he is completely changing his appearance. He goes downstairs to make himself breakfast, everything appears as normal as can be, until we see that he has murdered an entire family. There lifeless bodies scattered about the house. Their dog is scratching at the door, unable to see to his family. The man takes one last walk around them before leaving - without emotion. This scene really got to me. The dead children laying about, the dog whining - unable to get in. It’s a heart breaking scene, and the lack of emotion from the killer really let’s you see just how cold-hearted, evil, and brutal this man really is.
This film is brutal and violent, but only in a suggestive manner. The murders aren't your typical "Hack & Slash" type of murders. They are more like the murders one would've seen in films of yesteryear. In a time where an over-abundance of gore wouldn't have been permitted on screen. The film is more about building suspense and showing the brutal side of a man wearing the mask of the perfect family man, than it is about an abundance of gory, bloody, murder scenes. Dylan Walsh actually did a good job of playing the psychotic stepfather. At first I was a bit skeptical that he would be able to successfully pull off the role, but he did quite well. His cornball lines at the beginning made me nauseous. To be quite honest, I was glad when he put all of the cornball bullshit aside and showed his true evil side.
Penn Badgley plays the troubled teen, that is just returning from Military school. His Mother sent his there to straighten him out, due to the fact that he had a really bad temper and was being a typical angry teenager. I really liked him in this role, as he did a very good job of playing the troublesome teenager. His Mother is obviously trying to achieve the perfect life. Like anyone, she wants the perfect husband, son, and life. What she learns, in my opinion, is that perfection is only a mask. Beneath that mask lurks the true imperfections, to be perfect is to be a lie. Something tells me that, after all that she and her family goes through, she will now cherish and accept everything that she has, as it is.
The only problem that I had with this film, was that it took a while for it to really grab my attention. When it finally did, I was completely on the edge of my seat. While this film wasn't a perfect film, I did enjoy watching it. After the plot peak, the film really got interesting, it was just a shame that it took as long as it did to do so.
RATING: 4 out of 5 Stars.