Children of the Darned

Zombie teens' Disturbing Behavior could stand improvement

This is the film's most appealing thematic idea; it's what makes it possible to accept most of Disturbing Behavior's dopiness and lapses in logic with an indulgent smile. The actors help, too. Marsden is rather blandly handsome as Steve, but this generic quality is used to touching effect--he seems like especially pliable meat as a Blue Ribbon candidate. As Rachel, Holmes shows a heart under her sullen, defensive manner, and as Gavin, Steve's pal who tries to warn him of what's going on, Nick Stahl has a sardonic, reserved manner that truly engages our sympathies. William Sadler has a blast as the eccentric, rat-catching school janitor who assumes a mythic character in the film's climactic scenes.

Bruce Greenwood, the charmless leading man of several Atom Egoyan films, puts that charmlessness to good use here as the mad doctor. His role is, of course, the silliest; after all, if the man behind the project has failed to take the power of teenage horniness into account as a variable, how much of a scientist can he be? "Every time one of these kids gets a hard-on," he remarks at one point, "they beat somebody over the head with it!" This comes as a shock to him?

Disturbing Behavior
Directed by David Nutter; with Katie Holmes, James Marsden, Nick Stahl, Bruce Greenwood, Steve Railsback and A.J. Buckley.


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