Disturb Judge Gordon Sullivan only if you bring donuts.
Pray for Death
Harlan Ellison loves to tell the tale that one of the questions he's most frequently asked is "Where do you get your ideas?" He also loves to say that his answer is "A service in Poughkeepsie…you send them twenty dollars and they send you four ideas." It's a sarcastic response to an unanswerable question, but Ellison always looks gleefully glum when he follows up with the statement, "Without fail, at least one person will come up to me after the talk and ask for the address." Of course, Ellison uses the anecdote as a reflection of the gullibility of the masses, but it's a perennial question for lots of people, even if it's not stated quite so baldly. I don't wonder where ideas come from per se, but I often wonder how authors can get inside the heads of certain characters without personal experience (or going mad). The answer that Do Not Disturb provides is that authors don't have to imagine much; instead they just have to kill people for inspiration. It's not a bad idea, but after watching the execution of it in this film, many viewers are going to want to kill some people, starting with those involved with bringing Do Not Disturb to light.
Don (Stephen Geoffreys, Fright Night) is a screenwriter who had a big hit a few years back. Then tragedy struck and he hasn't been able to write since. He's lodged himself in a seedy hotel where he's hounded by his agent (Tiffany Shepis, Tromeo and Juliet). Don has taken to killing people in an attempt to jump start his script, but his past is still coming back to haunt him.
Let's get the good stuff out of the way first: Do Not Disturb can at least boast a decent cast list. Fans of the eighties will appreciate seeing Stephen Geoffreys in front of the camera, though his role here is nowhere near the quality of his turns in Fright Night or 976-EVIL. The late Corey Haim appears as well, though again this is nowhere near his heights in The Lost Boys. Indie stalwart Tiffany Shepis similarly appears, and playing slightly against type as an agent. This trio of performers should sound tempting to an fan of B-horror.
However, don't let the cast list fool you. Do Not Disturb should definitely not be disturbed by any viewers. It's a mess from start to finish, with no silver lining other than watching otherwise okay actors debase themselves with a script that goes nowhere and direction that's tedious at best.
Problems start with the story. It's not a bad idea, really; take a screenwriter with a dark past and a need for inspiration and watch him do some murdering. Play around a bit with whether he'll be discovered or not and you've got a decent excuse for a straight-up thriller or a darkly comic take on the pressures of Hollywood. On paper, it sounds great, but on the screen, Do Not Disturb moves from one unnecessary scene to the next, building no momentum or characterization. There's just tedious scene after tedious scene of a rundown hotel as characters badger one another with inane dialogue.
When the actual killing starts, we should be relieved, if only to get away from the lackluster dialogue, but even here there is no respite. Perhaps years of torture films have made me jaded, but there's little reason to sit through the murders on display here. Their setup is given minimal motivation, and the technical presentation isn't particularly compelling. There's a certain luridness to their low-budget feel, but otherwise it's a case of the monotony of the dialogue scenes being broken by the monotony of the murder scenes.
The DVD itself looks surprisingly good. Despite the low budget, all those dollars are up on the screen. The 2.35:1 anamorphic transfer has a dark, gritty look to it, but the choice to go wider than 1.78:1 gives the material an elevated feel. Detail is pretty good for the budget, and colors are well-saturated (though muted by design to give that gritty feel). Black levels are pretty consistent and have that slightly digital look. Overall the film looks better than it has any right to. The Dolby 5.1 Surround track is similarly strong; dialogue is clean and clear from the front, with some surround use to establish atmosphere.
Do Not Disturb has a decent cast going for it, and that's about it. That cast is wasted on a film that spends too much time trying to be a character-driven drama and not enough actual making the characters interesting. Though this DVD is fine by low-budget standards, this film is only recommended to fans of the bottom-tier examples of filmmaking.
Give us your feedback!
What's "fair"? Whether positive or negative, our reviews should be unbiased, informative, and critique the material on its own merits.
Scales of Justice
Studio: RLJ Entertainment
Review content copyright © 2013 Gordon Sullivan; Site design and review layout copyright © 2014 Verdict Partners LLC. All rights reserved.