Disturbing Behavior (1998) **1/2
D: David Nutter
C: James Marsden, Katie Holmes, Nick Stahl, Bruce Greenwood, William Sadler, Chad E. Donella, A.J. Buckley, Steve Railsbuck, Katharine Isabelle, Crystal Cass, Tobias Mehler, Derek Hamilton, Ethan Embry, Terry David Mulligan, Susan Hogan
Plot Synopsis: Steve Clark is a newcomer in the town of Cradle Bay. He quickly realizes that there's something odd about a high school clique known as the "Blue Ribbons" as they're the eerie embodiment of academic excellence & clean living. Like the rest of the town, they're a little too perfect. When Steve's rebellious friend Gavin mysteriously joins their ranks, Steve searches for the truth with fellow misfit Rachel.
*Please Note: This review applies to the 83 minute version.
Review: Reviewing Disturbing Behavior is a frustrating endeavor. It's well cast, well acted. Heck, it's even well made with some crisp photography. The costumes, wardrobe, props & locations utilized are all eye catching. It has a sense of humor about itself. The dialogue makes some spot on observations. There's scenes of violence that are jolting, but jolting in a good way as in they catch you off guard. The score is effective at contributing to the paranoid environment. The soundtrack is possibly one of the best soundtracks ever assembled for a horror film. Disturbing Behavior is technically proficient in every way imaginable, yet something feels missing, something doesn't quite come together.
We see various scenarios unfold, yet none of them quite have the resonance that they should. It's as though they're in a hurry to get to the next scene. It almost makes you want to yell at the screen and say s-l-o-w down! Allow these characters a chance to breath, to come alive before our eyes and for the story to fully develop. Allow the film enough time to get across the points that it's trying to make.
That's when I looked at the special features section on the DVD & Blu-Ray releases. There's an array of deleted scenes, including an alternate ending. These scenes flesh out the motivations for the characters. These scenes bring greater emotional depth to the proceedings. These scenes provide an extra layer of context that's missing in the 83 minute version. And then there's that alternate ending that closes things out on an emotional wallop. These deleted scenes & alternate ending show that Disturbing Behavior had the potential to be a stand out film in the post Scream horror era.
However, at the end of the day, I have to judge a film based on what's in front of me, not by what it could've been. As is, I gave Disturbing Behavior a marginal thumbs up. The production values are beyond reproach. It held my attention and it's moderately entertaining, despite this being an abridged presentation. Still, I can't shake this feeling of what Disturbing Behavior wanted to be and what the producer's altered it to be.
It's ironic that for a film about kids being lobotomized by their parents in order to be something other then what they are, to be something more marketable, that the producers took Disturbing Behavior out of the director's hands in order to alter it to be something they considered more marketable. This is a case of art imitating life. [R] 83 minutes.
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