• Disturbing Behavior

    Released By: Shout! Factory
    Released On: March 22, 2016.
    Director: David Nutter
    Cast: James Marsden, Katie Holmes, Nick Stahl, Bruce Greenwood
    Year: 1998
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    The Movie:

    It sounds like the start of a story that you've heard before, but there's something wrong with the kids at Cradle Bay High School. Following the suicide of his son Allen, Nathan Clark (Terry David Mulligan) decides that his family needs a fresh start away from their home in Chicago, and Cradle Bay seems like the perfect place; it's isolated, accessible only by ferry, quaint, clean, and the local high school has a great reputation. However, Steve Clark (James Marsden) gets an inkling that things aren't quite as they seem on his first day when he witnesses an ugly altercation between grease monkey Dickie Atkinson, and Trent, a member of the elite "Blue Ribbons". Together with Robby Stewart, Andy Effkin, "Chug" Roman, and some fine-looking females, the Blue Ribbons are the proteges of Dr. Edgar Caldicott (Bruce Greenwood), a school psychologist whose Enlightenment Seminars are surprisingly effective in turning troubled kids into model students.

    Though his good looks and athletic build make Steve a prime candidate for the Ribbons, his apprehension instead places him in the company of dope-smoking metalhead Gavin Strick (Nick Stahl) and his strange-looking albino burnout buddy U.V., who try to convince Steve that an evil force has taken over the jocks of the school. Although Steve finds the Ribbons to be weirdly aggressive, he's reluctant to blame any "evil", even after Nick tells him that he saw Ribbon Andy commit two murders...and that the police know about it. Chalking up Gavin's stories as paranoid pothead fantasies and walking away is the next logical step, but then Steve meets Rachel (Katie Holmes)...a good-looking metal chick who catches his fancy with her apathetic sloganeering, willingness to drink some beers underage, and her midriff-exposing tanktops.

    But when Dickie Atkinson shows up at school dressed as a Blue Ribbon and publicly trashes his own sweet GTO, Steve thinks that there may be something more to Gavin's theories than hallucinations; and things get a little stranger when Lorna, a Blue Ribbon cheerleader, takes her frustrations at not being able to get into Steve's pants by trying to stab him in the face. But before he can rally his troops to take real action, Mr. and Mrs. Strick submit Gavin to Dr. Caldicott's Enlightenment Program, turning the rebellious burnout into a smiling, preppy sweater-wearing do-gooder overnight. With Gavin out of the picture, it's up to Steve, Rachel, UV, and a rat-killing janitor to save the town before they, too, become Blue Ribbons.

    The late 90's were a weird time for horror-like films, and the success of Wes Craven's Scream (1996) spawned a crapload of teen terror flicks dealing with serial killers, malicious alien creatures, sadistic teaching staff, and supernatural forces, all featuring poster art with young, good-looking stars. Some of these films ranged from acceptable to decent, but most were very, very bad. Disturbing Behavior, walking a fine line between science fiction and horror, stands out as one of the better films, evoking memories of classics like Village of the Damned and Invasion of the Body Snatchers, while maintaining a very 90's look and sound; dialogue, fashion, music, and the actors themselves adhere to the strick aesthetic that defined these films. In the case of Disturbing Behavior, this isn't a bad thing, as the cast, from primary roles to supporting, handle the material effectively and fluidly. Even Katie Holmes, not known for her fantastic acting chops, does well with the little she's got to do, even making silly dialogue seem reasonable.

    The story itself, while not screamingly original, does take some interesting turns as well, introducing a few intriguing twists as it runs through its fairly short 83 minutes. Yes, there are absolutely gaping plot holes that must be ignored to preserve the viewers sanity, but overall, Disturbing Behavior is entertaining, fun, and even better than good, a fact that was more overlooked when it was released in a sea of similar looking material. Director David Nutter, whose experiences before and after the film would consist largely of television projects, brings that work ethic to the screen, moving the story along nicely, showing just what should be shown, when it should be shown.


    Those opening credits sure did have me worried that Disturbing Behavior was going to look like a bag of hot ass, but thankfully, the 1.85:1 AVC-encoded transfer picked up when the picture itself got rolling. While it's not going to win any awards for transfer of the year, there's a large amount of detail to be seen here, and the numerous dark sequences in the picture maintain their clarity with very little issue. Grain is present, and the occasional bit of debris, dirt and damage does pop up, but overall, this is a solid effort.

    The DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track (There's also a lossless DTS-HD 2.0 track included) is more than adequate for this film, and features impressive use of the surrounds and LFE tracks. Dialogue is clear and consistent, and there were no noticeable flaws. Dynamic range was good, and voice, effects, and score were balanced nicely as well.

    Deleted Scenes (24:42) are made up of 11 entries, including the original ending for the film. Each scene has an optional commentary with Director David Nutter.

    A feature-length commentary with Nutter is also included, as well as a Trailer for the film.

    The Final Word:

    Discarded by many as yet another clone of Scream and I Know What You Did Last Summer, Disturbing Behavior is actually a pretty decent film, miles better than most others released at the time, and it was a pleasure to revisit it. Shout's Blu-ray is a fine way to see it, so get on that.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!