Stepford Teenagers

Hey, teacher, leave them kids alone - Dorian

James Marsden and Katie Holmes in Disturbing Behaviour (1998)

"Stepford Wives", "Village of the Damned", "Invasion of the Body Snatchers" and "The Faculty" were all movies which sprung to mind as I sat through "Disturbing Behaviour" a teen horror flick which offers up nothing new, noteworthy or interesting. In fact as teen horror flicks go it is not only short on nudity and sex but also short on horror which for me made it almost pointless. Don't get me wrong as "Disturbing Behaviour" is solidly put together with a decent cast which includes Katie Holmes and James Marsden and whilst the cinematography is unimaginative it isn't sloppy. But "Disturbing Behaviour" is so generic, so similar to countless other movies that it struggles to grab your attention and rise above the cliches.

After his brother committed suicide Steve Clark (James Marsden - Sex Drive) and his family have moves to Cradle Bay for a fresh start but on his first day at a new school Steve meets misfit Gavin Strick (Nick Stahl - Incident in a Small Town) who warns him that it is the good guys he needs to be careful off. What Gavin is on about is the Blue Ribbon clique, the grade A students who do nothing wrong that is unless you get them aroused and then they turn in to killing machines, something which Gavin knows when he witnessed one of the them not only break the neck of a girl but shoot a cop. Initially sceptical Steve slowly starts to realise there is some truth in what Gavin says and with his new friends Rachel (Katie Holmes - Mad Money) and the uber misfit U.V. (Chad Donella) must try to escape the bay or stop the nefarious Dr. Edgar Caldicott (Bruce Greenwood) who is behind this disturbing behaviour.

Chad Donella and James Marsden in Disturbing Behaviour (1998)

I can see what the hook was when selling "Disturbing Behaviour" because it is a switch up on the norm teen movie concept where it is the clean cut students who are the danger and at the same time the reason they are so clean cut must also have been a selling point. But sadly the end result is a generic teen horror movie which goes through all the text book chapters till we get to the big climax. And along with those text book chapters we get some cliche elements, the introduction of Rachel as she sits posing on the back of her truck is as cliche as they come and that is just one of many. It is part of the reason why "Disturbing Behaviour" is so forgettable because it works through a text book of teen horror and rarely steps away from it.

Ironically for a movie called "Disturbing Behaviour" it is not in the least bit disturbing and with only one moment of nudity barely deserves the 15 certificate it got. Basically for a horror there is no horror and there is no atmosphere either never once creating a sense of tension or ominous doom. And for a teen horror there is surprisingly little when it comes to titillation, a suggesting sexual scene and one fleeting moment of topless nudity is all there is and whilst I don't think sex and nudity would have made it any better at least it would have grabbed your attention.

In truth the only memorable thing about "Disturbing Behaviour" is when the janitor goes all Pink Floyd and says "Hey, teacher, leave them kids alone". What that means is that the characters and the performances are also forgettable and derivative with the casting of the likes of James Marsden, Katie Holmes and Nick Stahl visually right but their characters to generic to be interesting. The closest it gets is in the character of U.V. a daft character played by Chad Donella but in being so extreme he at least grabs your attention.

What this all boils down to is that "Disturbing Behaviour" is just a generic teen horror movie which rather strangely comes up short on the horror. It's not terrible but it is unimaginative in style and content making it ultimately forgettable.

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