The Stepsister (1997)

TV Movie  |  PG-13  |   |  Drama  |  7 May 1997 (USA)
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Ratings: 5.7/10 from 241 users  
Reviews: 9 user | 1 critic

A young psych major uses her wits to expose the deadly intentions of her father's new bride and the woman's conniving daughter.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Darcy Canfield Ray
Melinda Harrison (as Bridgette Wilson)
Dr. Victor Ray
Professor Jeffrey Thurston
Detective Church
Dr. Derek Canfield
Joan Curtis Shaw Canfield
Charles Siegel ...
Peter (as Russell B. Porter)
Alexander Pollock ...
Brian Harrison
Margaret 'Maggie' Curtis
Freda Perry ...
Officer Sanders
Cheryl Wilson ...
Dr. Donna Canfield
John Tierney ...


A young psych major uses her wits to expose the deadly intentions of her father's new bride and the woman's conniving daughter.

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis


In this family, murder is relative. See more »



Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated PG-13 for violence and some sensuality | See all certifications »




Release Date:

7 May 1997 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

A Bela Face da Morte  »

Company Credits

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User Reviews

Reality be damned
8 March 2007 | by (Tulsa OK) – See all my reviews

Movies involving crime and legal drama have to have some license to depart from the way things are done in the actual world. In real trials, the attorneys usually remain behind a lectern, and upon presentation of exhibits and after every second or third question, there are usually objections from opposing counsel and repeated conferences are held privately with the judge, and witnesses are laboriously questioned for hours on-end.

Yet "Matlock" pulls a piece of evidence from his pocket, waves it in front of the witness (who is about six inches from him), takes it to the jury box and shows it to all 12 (all before the judge or opposing counsel have any idea of what in the hell he has); if there is any objection, he simply tells the judge to give him another moment, the judge agrees, the witness is shown to be the guilty party, his client is exonerated, and then the D.A. congratulates him on the victory. And all of this occurs usually in under 10 minutes real time at the end of the episode.

So we know most dramas have to take liberties with reality, and this film is no exception. Aside from the patent obviousness of the nefarious nature of the wicked "stepsister," which a child of 10 could see, there is no way in real life the daughter of the murdered man would have been summarily arrested and held as depicted here.

She might have been detained for a period of time, but in the film, there was no investigation by the authorities into the "septsister" and her mother's past, their history, etc. Neither the police nor the accused daughter's lawyer seemed to have the intelligence or inclination to do any investigating whatever.

All of the investigative activity is later pursued by the daughter alone -- concerning her late father's death, and the past of the title character and her mother. Again, in the "real world," many authorities would have conducted thorough investigations early-on, and upon the the stepsister's mom's subsequent demise, further effort would have ensued, undoubtedly seeing justice done, without the mayhem and false accusation which the heroine had to endure during the last half or so of the story.

But then, it would have looked more like a Court TV documentary instead of a Lifetime movie, and one of this network's handful of staples "the evil outsider(s) entering a happy family unit to commit mayhem and steal the inheritance of the rightful heir(s)." (Others include "the evil neighbor," "the spouse with the dark, secret past," "the spouse faking death, only to turn-up years later," etc.)

One only wishes that occasionally they might treat a story such as this in a bit more cerebral manner, perhaps taking a cue from series like "Law and Order," "CSI," in investigating and resolving the issues, instead of the steady staple of yelling, physical confrontation, and the inevitable holes in the plot which have supposedly intelligent characters zooming around madly and senselessly -- while the attorneys and police schlep about, listlessly, and with no intelligence, or effort to investigate or resolve matters.

6 of 6 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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