I was already quite familiar with the name Scott Rosenberg when DISTURBING BEHAVIOR hit theaters in 1998. I had started paying attention to Rosenberg as a screenwriter after I had seen THINGS TO DO IN DENVER WHEN YOU'RE DEAD. There were a lot of movies that came out after PULP FICTION that drew Tarantino comparisons, but THINGS TO DO IN DENVER was one of my favorites at the time. So when I noticed that Rosenberg was the writer, I started to look for his name on other movies. Soon after that, BEAUTIFIL GIRLS came out and I dug that movie too. Then came CON AIR, which I think I saw in the theater as well. Then, DISTURBING BEHAVIOR. The idea fascinated me. It was about a family they moved to an island community and the kids start to notice that things aren't quite normal. The son (James Marsden) in particular is privy to some strange behavior from some of his classmates. It was easy to tell from the trailer that DISTURBING BEHAVIOR had a very STEPFORD WIVES feel to it, but with teenagers. One of my favorite screenwriters at the time had written a "Stepford High School" movie? I was on board. I had only seen the original STEPFORD WIVES movie just a few years prior to this one coking out, so it was something of a cult movie for me at the time. It was nice and creepy like a Twilight Zone episode. On top of that, I had a crush on Katie Holmes back then. I wasn't even a DAWSON'S CREEK fan at all, but I was aware of the show and her in it. I'm not sure why I never got on board with that show. It was, after all, created by another of my favorite 90s writers - Kevin Williamson. It was Williamson with SCREAM and Rosenberg with DENVER (along with QT of course) that has invigorated my passion for writing. All three writers prided themselves on their fancy dialogue. Williamson and Rosenberg in particular were very into this self-aware, stylized teen-speak that was definitely a thing in the 1990s. I mean, it's still a thing now to one degree or another actually. Williamson really broke the mold with SCREAM though. I remember being in college and loving the way those characters talked to each other. While DISTURBING BEHAVIOR doesn't reach SCREAM levels of cleverness with its charter, it does have some fun little exchanges. Nick Stahl's character herds most of the choice sarcastic lines in the movie. Marsden is left with a few zingers though and Katie Holmes uses the word "razor" a lot - I think to mean sharp or solid. DISTURBING BEHAVIOR is an enjoyable 90s throwback to watch now. While not entirely successful, it's engaging and drawing upon interesting material from the aforementioned STEPFORD WIVES and a little horror movie called STRANGE BEHAVIOR (aka DEAD KIDS). There are a lot of silly/fun scenes with kids being "triggered" and freaking out. It's definitely a script and story that's coming from the mind of someone who loves movies and is aware of the tropes that come with teen films and this kind of thriller. Adult cast includes William Sadler (who is never not good) and Bruce Greenwood (who probably won't surprise you with the role he plays).
This Scream Factory disc includes an Audio Commentary from Director David Nutter, some deleted scenes and an interesting alternate ending.
DISTURBING BEHAVIOR can be purchased on Blu-ray here: