After looking at the DVD box cover for Do Not Disturb, I immediately had the sinking feeling of “oh no here we go again.” I can’t count how many low budget, independent horror films I’ve seen which seem to think they are doing something innovative and cutting edge by filling the screen with the most sickening imagery that the director can dream up, while casting aside niceties such as plotting, pacing, and character development.
As the film opened, I had the feeling that my fears were entirely founded. The movie begins by introducing the character Don Malek (played by Stephen Geoffreys), a down on his luck screenplay writer living in a seedy hotel room in an unspecified slum area of Los Angeles. In the opening scene, we see him give poison-laced cocaine to a Hollywood executive, laughing as the man convulses and vomits before passing out on the floor. Only, instead of killing him, Malek keeps the man alive in a bathtub where he surgically removes bits of his organs and stores them in a refrigerator. After an opening like that, I thought for certain I should be bracing myself for yet another excruciating exercise in violence and depravity that is so characteristic of no-budget indie “horror” films these days. Imagine my surprise, then, when the film that followed was not a continual bombardment of screaming and mindless torture. In fact, by the time I was a half hour into the movie I found myself realizing that this was a film that I could whole heartedly recommend… to people suffering from insomnia!
Honestly, given the choice of sitting through this movie or staring at the patterns on my wall, I’d say that the wall wins for being the more interesting time investment. Other than the prostitute Rebecca (Tara Sukustis) taking her clothes off in a couple of scenes, there’s virtually nothing remarkable that happens in the film. Lead actor Stephen Geoffreys seems to merely be going through the motions necessary to collect his paycheck. Tiffany Shepis plays Ava Collins, a seemingly hard-nosed screenplay representative, who inexplicably goes out of her way to follow Geoffreys’ character around, begging him to write something for her. Her motivations seem contradictory and nonsensical, and her journey into Malek’s madness is thoroughly unconvincing. The film looks like it was shot with somebody’s home camera with virtually no budget to speak of. It drags at a snail’s pace, seeming to go on for more than double its actual 90 minute running time.
I can’t remember when I’ve checked the clock so frequently, wondering when a movie was going to be over. I suppose I could say it was a plus to sit through 90 minutes of nothing, as opposed to 90 minutes of pointlessly disturbing imagery (well OK, it was more like 80 minutes of nothing and 10 minutes of pointlessly disturbing imagery). Otherwise, I can’t think of anything to recommend here.
In summary, this is one to avoid.