by Bret W.
This review was originally published to the now-defunct website The People’s Reviews in 2000.
The Stepford Wives, for the uninitiated, is a strangely fluid tale of a utopic suburban society. The tale itself is masterfully authored by the prince of this genre, Ira Levin, who also penned such classics as Rosemary’s Baby and This Perfect Day.
When Joanna and Walter Eberhart move from New York City to the small village of Stepford, it’s like a dream come true. The community enjoys low taxes, perfect air, great schools, a booming electronics industry, and a near absence of crime. Joanna quickly befriends two other women in town, Bobbie and Charmaine. When her husband joins the town’s Men’s group, she decides that they ought to form a Women’s group as well. However, she and her two friends discover that there is something just a little odd about the women in Stepford. These women seem to have a strange euphoric love affair with house work and pleasing their men with no thought to themselves. When Charmaine hangs her tennis outfit up for a long flowing dress and a mop, and when Bobbie all but becomes a poster girl for Hoover, Joanne finds herself the target of the Men’s group’s diabolical plan, to which she discovers the truth only just a little too late.
The Stepford Wives was a chilling and very timely film, made in an era of bra-burning and the ERA movement (or at least at the tail end of the bulk of the movement). By today’s standards, it’s campy and unbelievable but could effectively be redone in a more high-tech and suspenseful fashion. In fact, this film is strangely devoid of any suspense whatsoever, except at the end. It seems like we, the audience, know what’s happening long before Joanna figures it out, and by then it’s just a matter of watching her fall into the trap. The story itself is frightening and very real, along the lines of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, and the anti-horror music score just serves to make the film that much more unsettling. This film is a classic and a must-see for anyone who enjoys any good film.