Review – Disturbing Behavior (1998)

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8eRU4c5vsCrUT5AyZi9qeRskMWkWelcome to Mind Control Month | Sci-Fi/Fantasy Week – Day 1. This week will be a little different from last week, as we’ll be talking about mind control in a different sense of the word. Instead of aliens controlling our every move, this week focuses a lot on either a science fiction or fantasy route. We are starting off with Disturbing Behavior, which is pretty close to Invasion of the Body Snatchers if you take away the aliens explanation and provide something else in its place. This is a late ’90s film, so expect some cheese here and there. Other than that, I’ve never heard of this film before this week, so let’s get started with the plot.

When Steve Clark moves with his family to Cradle Bay and enrolls in the local high school, he’s not sure where he fits in with the local high school crowds. He doesn’t really fit in with the punkers, the nerds, the hot-rodders, or any of the other diverse groups you would expect to find in a typical American high school. Actually, Steve looks more like one of the jocks, but they don’t seem quite right either. In fact, the jock crowd seems perfect with their matching varsity jackets, perfect hair cuts, politically-correct charity work, and all-around perfect behavior that would make any mom and pop proud. When Steve befriends two of the less desirable social misfits at school, Gavin Strick and Rachel Wagner, he soon discovers why the jocks’ perfect behavior is so disturbing. IMDb

I’m surprised I’ve never really heard of this film, as it really does fit in rather well with the concept of traditional mind control. Out of the choices of either sci-fi or fantasy mind control, this is definitely science fiction, which is what I was originally planning the entire week on, so that’s good. As for an in-depth explanation as to what’s going on scientifically…there’s very little of that. So this is one of those sci-fi films where you sort of…have to accept it as it is, which is fine if you have a lot of really great, memorable characters that you either love or love-to-hate. Unfortunately, we don’t have a lot of that in Disturbing Behavior. You got a pretty decent cast, but without them playing roles that make any lasting impression, you might get a little stuck figuring out why you should care about them.

Let’s go ahead and break Disturbing Behavior down and interpret the stars.

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PEOPLE SCORE – 6/10
Acting – 1|Characters – 1|Casting – 1|Importance – 2|Chemistry – 1

First off, we start with the people category, which was this film’s first real mistake, as it had very little focus on the thing when it could’ve easily been better. There are so many recognizable faces in Disturbing Behavior that I’m shocked out how unmemorable any of the characters are. So, yeah, lots of nice actors, but without memorable characters, anyone else could’ve played the roles, sorry. As for their acting? Well, it was all fine and dandy, but no one showed range once. Also, because the characters weren’t all that memorable, neither was their chemistry with one another. Finally, the only good thing I can really say about each of the characters is that they all seem to have their own independent reason for being there that helps add to the plot, which is definitely a good thing.

WRITING SCORE – 7/10
Dialogue – 1|Balance – 2|Story – 1|Originality – 1|Interesting – 2

Next up, we’ll take a look at the actual writing for this film. The dialogue never really stands out as important or memorable, but the film itself does follow a pretty decently balanced pacing. The goal is always in mind and they are always doing the next step to figure it out. The story itself is fine, but because so many elements could’ve been done better, I have to give half points for that. Originality-wise, it wants to be something special and unique, but it feels like we’ve seen it before, and that’s probably because Invasion of the Body Snatchers exists. So half points there, and finally, is it interesting? Sure, I’ll give it that. I do find the concept interesting.

BTS SCORE – 6/10
Visuals – 1|Directing – 1|Editing – 1|Advertisement – 2|Music – 1

Alrighty, we have yet another disappointing BTS score from a thriller. The visuals could’ve been way better, the directing and editing could’ve benefitted off of a real challenge, and the music could’ve been less cheesy. Everything mostly did what it was supposed to do here, but only the bare minimum. At the very least, I’ll say that it was as-advertised, which is always a plus.

NARRATIVE ARC SCORE – 8/10
Introduction – 2|Inciting Incident – 2|Obstacles – 2|Climax – 2|Falling Action – 0

Alright, folks, we are now moving onto the narrative arc category, which mostly scored perfectly, if it weren’t for the falling action. The introduction does a good job of introducing us to the main characters and central idea of what’s going on. The inciting incident is when one of the main characters transforms into one of those well-behaved jocks, the obstacles come down to both figuring out what’s going on, how to stop it, and how to stay away from the multiplying crowd of brainwashed kids. The falling action, like I said before, wasn’t there. It mostly just cuts out at the end without giving you any new norm or settling things down.

ENTERTAINMENT SCORE – 3/10
Rewatchability – 1|Fun – 1|Impulse/Buy – 0|Impulse/Talk – 0|Sucks You in – 1

Alright, so was this an entertaining film? Not really. It had it’s moments, sure, but in the end, I don’t think it’s a film I would ultimately recommend. While I may rewatch this someday, it wouldn’t be from me looking for it. Somebody might suggest watching it and I may agree. How fun was it to watch? In certain scenes, it was a lot of fun and even sucked you in here and there, but it also does a really good job at taking you out of what’s going on and distracting you. No impulse to buy it, own it, or talk about it. So, there you go.

TOTAL SPECIAL – 35/50
Mind Control – 10|Sci-Fi – 5|Mystery – 10|Horror – 0|Halfway Decent – 10

Finally, we are down to the five specialty questions that I asked before seeing the film. First and foremost, this is mind control month, so was this a good presentation of mind control? Absolutely, there’s no doubt as to what’s happening here. They even say mind control in the film. Next up, how about the sci-fi angle? There’s definitely a big sci-fi angle here, but they don’t really delve too deeply into an explanation, so only half points there. How is the mystery? Truthfully, it does a good job at keeping the mystery alive in the film, even throwing red herrings your way – which I welcomed. What about being horror? Not even in the slightest. More thriller than horror. Finally, was it halfway decent? I would say that, yes, it did what it intended to do, so I gotta say that it was halfway decent.

TOTAL – 65/100

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