Scream Factory keeps the forgotten hits of yesteryear coming with 1998’s thriller “Disturbing Behavior.” The surprisingly effective film was directed by David Nutter (“Game of Thrones,” “The X-Files”) from a story by Scott Rosenberg (“Con Air,” “Tales from the Crypt”). Katie Holmes headlines the cast made up of James Marsden (“X-Men,” “Enchanted”), and Nick Stahl (“Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines,” “Sin City”) at a time when she was in the spotlight thanks to the success of “Dawson’s Creek.”
Steve Clark (James Marsden) is a newcomer in the town of Cradle Bay, and he quickly realizes that there's something odd about his high school classmates. The clique known as the "Blue Ribbons" are the eerie embodiment of academic excellence and clean living. But, like the rest of the town, they're a little too perfect. When Steve's rebellious friend Gavin (Nick Stahl) mysteriously joins their ranks, Steve searches for the truth with fellow misfit Rachel (Katie Holmes) in "Disturbing Behavior."
Katie Holmes takes on the role of rebellious Goth teen Rachel Wagner in "Disturbing Behavior." She was doing her best at the time to break free of her good-girl typecast in “Dawson’s Creek” where she played near-perfect Joey. What that means is she grimaces a lot and dresses up in half-shirts and rocker boots.
“Disturbing Behavior” has all the tropes you could ever want in a genre film from the late 1990s. You get over-the-top performances and bad acting mixed with hints of tell-tale talent. A melodramatic electronic soundtrack is mixed well with an alternative rock soundtrack and clothing styles that defined the decade.
The lesson to be found in “Disturbing Behavior” is that you must fight for your identity and individuality. Don’t run with the crowd just to be accepted. There’s a lot more social commentary here than what you would expect from a Hollywood teen flick.
The HD transfer for “Disturbing Behavior” is a bit dirty and grainy. The clarity doesn’t help when green screen is used. The visual effect used to show the brainwashing really ages the movie as well. They're a sort of fractal imagery that would have looked advanced in a Pre-CGI world, but comes across as hokey today.
Bonus material for “Disturbing Behavior’s” Blu-ray debut is rather sparse. We get deleted scenes and an alternate ending with optional commentary from Director David Nutter. A theatrical trailer is included as well. I’m surprised they couldn’t come up with at least a vintage special feature for the release.
The movie is rated R for strong violence, sexuality, language, and drug content. There’s nudity in a couple of parts and one definite scene suggesting something is going on out of frame. As usual, it’s really all needless and might have been the reason the movie wasn’t as successful as it could’ve been were it accessible to a PG-13 crowd.
“Disturbing Behavior” manages to provide some great thrills and chills. The best way to describe it is as a sort of teen slasher mixed with “The Stepford Wives” and “A Clockwork Orange.” The ending seems rushed and comes with some cheesy one-line and a tacked - on finale that would lead you to believe they're might be a sequel in the works. Unfortunately, the movie didn’t make enough money at the box office to merit such a thing.
“Disturbing Behavior” is available now on Blu-ray.
You can see more articles by Eric Shirey at www.ersink.com.