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Disturbing Behavior (1998)

Directed by David Nutter Written by Scott Rosenberg

  A Blue Ribbon jock is seen out in what could be recognized as an “make out mountain” with a girl you might not expect to be his type. Her oh so bright response as to why she had “self-mutilated” her body (referring to the tattoo on her leg) being “self mutilate this, fluid boy.” Cops approach the vehicle as it seems Andy did actually need his fluids, having snapped the girl’s neck. One of the officers taking notice and asking what was going on; Andy grabing the gun from Officer Cox (Steve Railsback) and shoot the other cop dead. Unaware that fellow student Gavin (Nick Stahl) had been looking in and witnessing the entire situation.

  Steve (James Marsden) and his family are on their way to Cradle Bay in hopes of obtaining a “better” life than previously had in Chicago. His parents and sister Lindsay (Katharine Isabelle) begin to settle in with Steve later wakes from a nightmare in which he sees flashes of his brother Allen, (Ethan Embry) who was no longer with them. The next day brings plenty “excitement” as he doesn’t interact with anyone until lunch when approached by UV (Chad Donella) and Gavin. Introductions are dealt out as he also breaks down the school in terms of where they sat in the lunchroom (much like the scene in Mean Girls):

Motorheads: All the world’s a gasket Drug of Choice: posi-traction overdrive, classic rock, Skyyrd, The Allmans Drug of Choice: beer, Miller Genuine Draft, Keggers can’t be choosers UV: Freaks who fix leaks.

Microgeeks: Nerds, whiz kids and various other bottom feeders Music of Choice: the sound of an Apple PC booting up Drug of Choice: Stephen Hawkins”A brief history in time” and a cup of jasmine tea on a Saturday night. UV: Freaks that go squeak

Skaters: Riffin’ ragin’ kids and their ramp tramps, baggy pants, Dickie wools, doing 50-50 grinds with a gnarly grab finish on a homemade half-pipe in the woods Music of Choice: the whack of a hacky sack Drug of Choice: Ecstasy, E-tab UV: Freaks in sneaks

Blue Ribbons: Community group of good kids Music of Choice: the hum of perfection, the buzz of ambition Drug of Choice: Life, the pursuit of clean living at the expense of all who sniffle at the hem of their gowns UV: Freaks, so chic

Belonging to the Lames: they like their metal heavy, their Marlboro’s light Music of Choice: Harvestor of Sorrow, Language of the Mad Drug of Choice: What do you got? UV: Freaks all week!

  We later see members of the Blue Ribbon group meeting up with a degenerate having involved themselves in a minor conflict earlier and his attempt to ward them off. Steve meets with Dr. Caldicott (Bruce Greenwood) the following day and speak with him in terms of whether he had any intention on joining an extra-curricular activities. Knowing full well what had happened in Chicago concerning his brother, they insist on only wanting to offer help and let him know that they would be there to help guide him. Making it aware that he is able of handling himself, Steve exits the building to feast his eyes on an instant attraction with Rachel (Katie Holmes). Going off with them as they try to get someone to buy beer for them. Running into Charles, (A.J. Buckley) captain of the Ribbon’s who beats up a couple of guys when unable to control his anger after getting a overwhelming sensational through his body after viewing Rachel. Gavin later shares his “conspiracy theory” of something going on in their town involving the members of the Blue Ribbons. A later display at school shows off their newest prodigy Dickie, (Tygh Runyan) while bashing in his prized possession car, only proving his paranoia certain.

  Though that proof is not enough for Steve as Gavin is forced to take him to the Blue Ribbon meeting to hear of the excursions going on without the permission of the students. Summing up the meeting with detailing the next “superstar” they intended on molding; Gavin. Telling Stevie boy that he would “smoke them all out before that happened” and asked to not be left alone. The results of his abandonment proving lethal the next day at school when Gavin is presented as one of the very people he thrived on making fun of. Confused and no where else to go, Steve finds himself getting minimal insight from Janitor Dorian (William Sadler) to later run into Mary Jo (Natassia Malthe) at his house (who was tutoring his sister). An outburst of inappropriate behavior or dare I saw, disturbing behavior occurs with Mary Jo having no recollection of what happened as she rushed home. Paying no mind to the gash on her head from just having bashed it into the hallway mirror.

  Rachel finds a disc intended for her and Steve to watch in which Gavin speaks of looking up Caldicott’s prior history and something about “his children.” Showing him papers having printed out while looking up his last place of employment, located across the bay in Bishop Flats at Bellknop Psychiatric Facility and how he worked with mind control. Sneaking into the facility (because that’s an easy task apparently) they find themselves at the mercy of the patients as they hide out in one’s particular room. Which just so happened to be the secret that Caldicott had been trying to keep at bay; he locked up his daughter there. They leave immediately and run into the Officer whose been assisting the Blue Ribbons.  Luckily receiving some help from the crazy janitor, who was in the area. Yelling at them to run off, they return to Steve’s as he tries to take his sister away from there, getting cornered and brought in to help in their quota of higher learning with the message of “Go Forward.” Strapped down to a contraption most similar with that used in A Clockwork Orange, Steve is able to brake out and bring rag doll Rachel with. They leave as UV drives up with Lindsay (two birds, one stone type of deal) who insures they were really them by asking what the capitol of North Dakota was. The response of “how the fuck should I know” sufficing as they’re eventually cut off by a street filled with Blue Ribbons. Their savior being the janitor who amidst all the eccentric behavior had been working on a device intended for the robots. Of which they follow the dreadful noise it provided all the way down the cliff.

  I liked the Floyd line Sadler yelled before driving off, the appropriated line “Teacher, leave those kids alone.” As well the last scene was a nice add in, though it’s a shame that most of the movies made around this time, spawned terrible sequels, trilogies and just unnecessary material to follow. I do wish I had seen Stahl in more of the psychological thrillers around that time; he had a knack for it that he unfortunately wasn’t able to show. Holmes was a nice surprise in this film, having stated that she liked working on the movie being that every day felt like Halloween in getting to dress up. Uh, sure Katie; Halloween. Either way, having already maintained a flair for being the annoyed and soft spoken girl next door; why not add the facial piercings and dark clothing right? This being more or less what put Marsden in front of the camera enough to get noticed. Certainly a late comer with being in the “biz” but an extremely talented and humorous actor that I enjoy in just about anything I see him in. He’s consistently a wonderful surprise and continues to stack up roles in which you may not necessarily see him in but yet is able to execute each role in it’s intended manner.

  What I liked most about this movie was that it always felt as though the kids in The Village of the Damned had grown up and this was the product. Well, what’s so wrong with wanting to conform? I suppose nothing, if never having believed in individuality and the thought of having your own opinion truly seems more grueling than rewarding. One man had a vision of a town boasting of it’s idealistic belief that we are better if ruled by one thought and one practice. A somewhat agitating thought as though we are so far from this sort of implementation. Though I find myself yet again digressing. There are entirely too many unexplained things and coincidences in the movie but since it’s marketed for teens I, once again, usually expect them. Donella being the biggest surprise with his transformation into Sean Patrick Flanery’s Powder character; pretty much. He was funny and able to play the hero in the end…sort of though he doesn’t get a lot of on-air time. Not too bad of a psychological teen thriller; nevertheless would have liked to see a more mature sequel that used Stahl as implied would happen.