Disturbing Behavior (1998) – Review

2 Stars

Director David Nutter is the man credited as director of Disturbing Behavior and his past work is largely compromised of work on the hit television show The X-files. This seems appropriate since Disturbing Behavior plays like a feature-length version of one of that show’s lesser episodes. There is a sprinkle of interest in the film’s concept, which mixes the Stepford Wives troupe with Scream.

Steven Clark (James Marsden) is new to the small town of Cradle Bay, Washington. It’s a nice quiet suburb with a big hidden secret. The prep school standouts are actually being controlled by an unscrupulous psychologist, Dr. Edgar Caldicott (Bruce Greenwood), who has turned the teens into robotic ideal students with one glaring side effect, an uncontrollable bloodlust. Steven stumbles onto this plot when his friend Gavin (Nick Stahl) goes from a stoner introvert to part of the “Blue Ribbon” society of honor roll students. Rachel (Katie Holmes) is a punk-rock dressing outsider who bands with Steven to expose the devious manipulation of the teenagers of Cradle Bay.

There are noted behind the scenes battles between the filmmakers and the studio MGM. The executives forced mandated cuts to the picture resulting in a vibe that feels alternately jumbled and rushed. Marsden, Stahl, and the beautiful Katie Holmes do an adequate job with the material, but the story never goes for anything other than surface pleasures. Disturbing Behavior isn’t an unwatchable experience, it’s just a forgettable one.

Director: David Nutter
Stars: James Marsden, Katie Holmes, Nick Stahl, Bruce Greenwood, William Sadler

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