Disturbing Behavior (1998)

June 20, 2010 - 9:15pm | FrighT MasteR
  Tags: 90's, A.J. Buckley, brain washed, Bruce Greenwood, Chad E. Donella, cheesy, David Nutter, David Paetkau, Derek Hamilton, Disturbing Behavior, Ethan Embry, experiments, high school, James Marsden, Katharine Isabelle, Katie Holmes, Nick Stahl, Steve Railsback, students, Susan Hogan, teens, Terry David Mulligan, Tobias Mehler, underrated, William Sadler

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David Nutter
James Marsden, Katie Holmes, Nick Stahl, Bruce Greenwood, William Sadler, Steve Railsback, Chad E. Donella, Tobias Mehler, Katharine Isabelle, Ethan Embry, Terry David Mulligan, Susan Hogan, A.J. Buckley , Derek Hamilton, David Paetkau

Disturbing Behavior is another forgotten 90's horror pic that unless you caught it in its brief stint at the theaters (like I did) or when it'd occasionally air on TV, you'd likely never heard of it. A product of the mid-to-late 90's teen horror boom (thanks to the huge success of Scream), Disturbing Behavior opened on the same day as the mammoth Saving Private Ryan, which naturally captured the hearts and minds of movie-goers everywhere, and this flick quickly faded into obscurity (lasting only a couple weeks at the box office). It's a little sad considering it's not exactly a bad movie, though it does have a number of flaws.

The film's story revolves around a family that moves from Chicago to a small island town named Cradle Bay, where they hope to start a new life after the tragic suicide of their eldest son. James Marsden stars as Steve one of the remaining kids (along-with Katharine Isabelle as his sister), who tries to get accustomed to his new surroundings and meets a small group of stoner outcasts: The "pigmantly-challenged" U.V. (Chad E. Donella), the "girl that cooks rich trash" Rachel (Katie Holmes) and Gavin (Nick Stahl), the leader whom gives Steve the rundown of all the cliques within the school. Primarily that of the Blue Ribbons, a group of achieving popular students that are quick to shun outsiders.

There's something definitely devious brewing within the town's Blue Ribbon students, as violent public outbursts and an overnight change of character with certain individuals leads Gavin to an insane theory that the students are hypnotized or brainwashed. The group instantly dismiss the idea as paranoia (he's a stoner afterall), but then after his parents sign him up for "The Program" he returns to school the next day a changed man -- high on life, with his hair finally combed and preppy-dressed, Gavin is now one of the Blue Ribbons...

Though James Marsden stars, it's Nick Stahl's character Gavin that pretty much steals the show. His charismatic dialogue and performance shows an intellectual and enigmatic side of the character that overshadows the rest of the cast. Speaking of the rest of the cast, it's worth noting that this is pre-Tom Cruise, Katie Holmes, back when she was still hot and co-starring in Dawson's Creek. Genre fav. Katharine Isabelle also has some screen time as the sister of Steve, but her character is so underdeveloped and pointless. Potential drama is lost with her, especially when it's revealed that she was starting to be-friend the Blue Ribbons (none of which was actually shown, only hinted at).

Disturbing Behavior is sadly a movie that falls victim to heads at the studio -- getting 10 scenes and an alternate ending axed from the release, which could've potentially given more context to some of the key characters and additional plot-points that would've proven useful in an otherwise clichéd story. However, those that might've caught it on TV would've seen a "director's cut" of sorts, presenting many of the scenes that were once left on the cutting room floor. If you pick up the DVD they're also featured as deleted scenes and show how it could've been a better film had they remained.

Disturbing Behavior is by no means a good movie, giving us a predictable Stepford Wives-esque premise, a lack of blood, a lot of underdeveloped characters and plot-holes, but it's still an enjoyable watch for those late nights you may spend channel surfing, especially for its cheesy and intentionally (or unintentionally?) funny scenes.

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FrighT MasteR's picture
FrighT MasteR is an avid horror fan / monster hunter extraordinaire, who created and has been running UHM since its inception, way back in 1999.




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