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Disturbing Behavior Review (1998)

My History With the Film:
I first watched this movie in July of 2016. I ran across the film streaming on Amazon Prime late one night and decided I should check it out. I’m a fan of both Katie Holmes and James Marsden and it was a treat to find William Sadler in the film as well.

I’m not a huge fan of body-snatcher type movies, and this film definitely falls in that category. I enjoyed it for what it was, but it didn’t leave a lasting impression on me. I actually had to rewatch it so I could complete this review.

What The Film Is About (Non-Spoiler):
A new kid becomes suspicious of a clique in school that seem to be a little too perfect.

What I Liked About It:
-The cast is pretty solid with James Marsden (X-Men), Katie Holmes (The Gift), Nick Stahl (Terminator 3), Steve Railsback (Ed Gein), William Sadler (The Shawshank Redemption), Katherine Isabelle (Gingers Snaps), Ethan Embry (Empire Records), and Bruce Greenwood (Gerald’s Game).

-I’ve never been a fan of the whole “Stepford Wives” type plot, but at least in this film it has a point. ::SPOILER ALERT:: The town is using mind control to turn all the children into well behaved productive members of society. Of course, this programming comes with glitches that show themselves in violent outbursts.

-Katie Holmes is great as the young goth girl, but she doesn’t get near enough screen time. I feel like the movie marketed itself around her, but it takes a while before she’s featured in most of the scenes.

-William Sadler is both amazing and horrible in his portrayal of Dorian Newberry. Watch the film and you’ll see what I mean. There is some redemption in his performance towards the end.

-::SPOILER:: Nick Stahl’s character’s conversion is a bit tough to swallow because you do grow to like his character quickly. It might be the most effective part of the entire plot.

What I Didn’t Like About It:
-As I’ve mentioned before, I really dislike the whole “Stepford Wives” plotline. You can make all sorts of connections to various factions throughout history and even currently and thus turn it into social commentary, but that’s just too much thinking for a stupid film about a teenager who moves into a new found and finds himself an outcast.

-The ending is effective but dumb.

-The film is super short (83 minutes), and because of that it’s short on plot and character development.

-The film is not fun. In a movie like this it either needs to be terrifying or fun, and this film is neither. Somewhere deep down I feel like there is a good film and maybe it’s in that unreleased director’s cut, but it certainly isn’t in this 83 minute cut.

-James Marsden is an actor I usually enjoy, but he seems miscast in this film. I think he would have made a better Blue Ribbon than the protagonist.

Additional Notes:
-The film was heavily edited by the studio. The director, David Nutter, had his cut taken away from him and multiple edited version was sent around to test audiences before an 83 minute version was finally sent to theaters. David Nutter almost had his name removed from the credits because the film was so dramatically changed. No official director’s edit has been released but the SyFy channel has aired an extended version of the film, and a fan edit does exist.

-The film was a massive box office disappointment.

-Several of the cast members had roles in other notable horror films

  • James Marsden (Straw Dogs, Gossip, Campfire Tales)
  • Katie Holmes (The Gift)
  • Katharine Isabelle (Ginger Snaps,
  • Tobias Mehler (Carrie, Wishmaster 3)
  • Steve Railsback (Ed Gein)
  • Ethan Embry (Vacancy)
  • William Sadler (The Mist, Bordello of Blood)
  • Bruce Greenwood (Gerald’s Game)

Disturbing Behavior is a below average movie. It took a plot that has already been overexposed and applied to the late 90’s teen horror films in an attempt to make it fresh. It works to a degree, but the film gets bogged down with explaining why the town acts such a way, instead of giving us a reason to root for the good guys. Katie Holmes should have been the main character and the movie needs another fifteen minutes of plot to really make it work.

I give Disturbing Behavior a two out of five and say skip it.

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