Disturbing Behavior (1998)
Director: David Nutter
Steve (Mardsen) and his family move to serene Cradle Bay to start fresh. But when Steve hits his first day of high school, he encounters bigger problems than the usual pimple faced jack-offs. You see, there’s an elite group of “too good to be true” kids called the “Blue Ribbons” and their favorite activities include eating yogurt at the “Yogourt Shoppe”, organizing bake sales and taking part in the occasional killing of innocents every time they pop a hard-on. What’s wrong with these damn kids? Who the fuck hangs out at a yogurt shop???
This flick starts off on the right foot with a gripping opening scene (slut) and a groovy “The Stepford Wives”-like premise tuned up to fit the teen crowd. Unfortunately, the film quickly loses its footing after its intriguing set-up by rushing everything without ever taking the time to develop the themes or the relationships that it brings up. Who’s responsible for this? Who I said??
CULPRIT #1: Judging by the deleted scenes which I saw on the DVD, it seems as though the studio saw fit to axe all of the substance out of the movie (sound familiar?), therefore underestimating its audience and tending to the short attention spanned dimwits of the world. We’re not imbeciles, Mr. Studio! We can take a bit of story with our action! Stop messing with the director’s vision! Sheesh! In consequence, the love angle between Steve and Rachel is watered down, the lead character’s burden (the death of his brother) is rendered inconsequential, the town conspiracy angle is never fully fleshed out, the film’s message is lost in the shuffle (conformity and hell that is high school) and the story moves so fast that we’re never given any time to feel any tension in regards to the situation. What a shame…
CULPRIT #2: The studio isn’t the only one to blame for this film’s shortcomings. I had a couple of problems with the script itself as well. First off, what was up with that character UV (Donella)? He brought nothing to the storyline, annoyed the shite out of me and I couldn’t understand a single syllable that he was spurting out (that’s the actor’s fault). And whose idea was it to have that mo-mo rat catcher (Sandler) in the flick. Apart from his true M.O not making sense (when did he start pretending, before or after he moved to town?) his demeanor also irritated me and he brought with him one PUTRID ass line in the guise of: “Hey teacher, leave those kids alone!” I almost hurled after that…urg. Add to that, a mental hospital in which loons are allowed to walk freely with no security around (huh?), a sillier than “Michael Jackson” way of defeating the tinkered-with kids and one dumb ass hero move, that’s only there to steer the movie towards its foregone conclusion (if I’m in my car and a group of psycho teens block my way…I drive through them, I don’t stop the car and step out to see wassup…COME ON!) and you get one flawed beeyatch.
On the plus side, the flick is in such a hurry to cum, that I never got bored while it was palming off. The atmosphere is gloomy, the directing is slick, the soundtrack is kool, Nick Stahl (Gavin) rocks the house, I loved his “defining the school social groups” monologue and he has all the best lines (“appropriate sparks are flying, somebody cue the power ballad”). Katie Holmes (Katie Holmes) and Crystal Kass (Lorna) are also great eye candy (loved Crystal’s mirror sequence), the Vancouver scenery (especially on the ferry) is breathtaking and the mental ward bit, although flawed, does come with one eerie moment ("Meet the musical creatures that hide in the flowers"). In the end, "Disturbing Behavior" does showcase glimpses of the solid film which it could have been, but it's dragged down by severe cuts and bad script choices. Whoever edited this flick is one DISTURBED fool!
Nothing to call ma and pa about. We do get a slick neck crack, some occasional blood (the head in the mirror) and Derek Hamilton’s overuse of eyeliner.
James Mardsen (Steve) does fine as the film’s protagonist and handles his character’s emotional levels well. Nick Stahl (Gavin) gives a solid performance as the misfit who knows a thing or two about a thing or two. He stands out as the better actor here and his delivery is impeccable. Katie Holmes (Rachel) plays against type as the “Goth”-like chick with the nose ring and the tight tops…I bought it! Chad Donella (UV) bored me and his constant mumbling didn’t help. Fine actor William Sandler (Dorian) does what he can with the material, but still kind of makes a fool of himself. Bruce Greenwood (D. Caldicot) plays a bad guy…again…he’s good at it though. Crystal Cass (Lorna) is way hot and is in one of the film’s most memorable scenes. Katharine Isabelle (Lindsey) underplays it and it’s the way to go. Ginger is in da house! Derek Hamilton (Trent) acts with his mascara.
T & A
Crystal Cass (Lorna) shows off her two friends. Thanks babe, I needed that.
David Nutter went to the school of X-Files (he directed some episodes) and it's very apparent. We get "mood" up the wazoo, flashy cuts and slick angles. Bummer that the flick got butchered in the editing room. Lots of good scenes were turned into mediocre ones. Nutter must be pissed!
The tunes in this flick had me running to get the soundtrack. All about hip stuff from the likes of Treble Charger and Flys. The score by Mark Snow (of X-Files fame) is also one solid piece of work.
I re-watched this flick with my friend Melissa (there’s your shout out, Mel) and she summed it up quite nicely once the credits rolled. She said: “Every time I watch this movie, I feel teased”. Couldn’t have said it better myself. Much like the more recent studio chop job “Soul Survivors”, "Disturbing Behavior" feels incomplete and the promise that it showcases early on is never fulfilled. It's still entertaining and I do recommend it if you have time to murder, but it could’ve been so much more. I’m personally always harder on the films that show the most potential. "Disturbing Behavior" is one of those. “Bad, wrong, bad wrong…crash!”
Screenwriter Scott Rosenberg ("Beautiful Girls") wrote this screenplay.
If you don’t blink, you’ll spot Brendan Fehr of "Roswell" fame as a background car jock in the cafeteria sequence.
The DVD sports 11 deleted scenes (all the substance, basically) and an alternate ending where Gavin meets a different fate.