Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Disturbing Behavior (1998)

After Scream brought the teen scream horror genre back with a vengeance, we got some fun horror flicks (even if some of them weren’t supposed to be as funny as they turned out. I’m looking at you The Craft.) I somehow missed this one back in the day. My wife assured me that it wasn’t very good. But hell, sometimes that makes it even more fun, right?

Steve (James Marsden) and his family have just moved to Cradle Bay Island, a sleepy suburban town. Coming from Chicago, this is a bit of a culture shock, but Steve tries his best to fit in. Soon he befriends two local misfits who give him a rundown of how the school is run. But Gavin (Nick Stahl) is also convinced that something shady is going on in the town. You see the perfect and most popular of the kids in Cradle Bay weren’t always that way.

Gavin spins a yarn about rowdy kids disappearing overnight and then returning perfect and popular, but with some minor anger management issues. Steven thinks this is pretty funny, and spends more time hanging out with Rachel (Katie Holmes) the bad girl (you can tell she’s bad because she wears black a lot). But soon enough Steven begins to see strange things going on in the town. Is Dr. Caldicott j(Bruce Greenwood) just around to provide advice to students? Is the crazy janitor (William Sadler) really crazy, or just pretending? And if Steven starts exhibiting Disturbing Behaviour will he be the next to disappear?

Good Points:
  • A neat idea for a fun campy film
  • Some of the cast appears to be having a great time
  • Some of the dialogue is ridiculously ripe

Bad Points:
  • Can’t decide if it wants to be taken serious or not
  • Edited in a confusing way that often grinds the film to a halt
  • Katie Holmes attempts to play an edgy bad girl with a heart of gold… uh huh.

This movie actually has an impressive crew behind it. Lots of folks that worked on one of my favorite 1990s series, The X-Files were involved in this one. But somehow the whole thing just doesn’t work. Some actors are playing it over the top and campy (Bruce Greenwood is a hoot). But others are playing it completely straight. The editing is atrocious. Scenes stop, jump and skip around. You never lose the narrative, but in an attempt to be edgy (I think) the final project actually feels longer than it is. And Katie Holmes is just miscast in this film. She’s cute and all, but I don’t believe she’s the bad girl she’s supposed to be. The final result is a dull movie that moves in fits and starts. Not bad enough to be fun, and not good enough to actually watch.

Scores (out of 5)
Visuals: 3
Sound: 3
Acting: 3
Script: 2
Music: 3
Direction: 2
Entertainment: 2
Total:  2

Curious about a full review, sent me an email and I’ll make additional thoughts to this review.


  1. I've seen this whole movie, but never at a single sitting -- a piece here and a piece there. I guess that means my reaction is similar to yours, or else I would have sat through it or not returned to it at all. This has the elements of a fun flick along with a classic "don't trust your parents" theme that always resonates with teens. Maybe it's just too long for the subject matter.

  2. Yeah, I think they could have done more with that "Don't trust your parents" theme. It is there and it is implied. But a more direct confrontation with Steve and his parents could have helped the film. Oh well.