The Movie Waffler Screamfest LA 2022 Review - DO NOT DISTURB | The Movie Waffler

Screamfest LA 2022 Review - DO NOT DISTURB

do not disturb review
Two newlyweds regress to a primal state upon taking some extremely strong peyote.

Review by Eric Hillis

Directed by: John Ainslie

Starring: Kimberly Laferriere, Rogan Christopher, Janet Porter, Christian McKenna

do not disturb poster

I imagine if you work in a hotel that whenever you see a "Do Not Disturb" sign hanging on a door, you probably start to wonder about the level of mess you're going to have to clean up later. What are the occupants up to that they don't wish to be disturbed? Maybe they're just having a nap, or enjoying some quality intimacy? Or maybe they're up to something sinister? In writer/director John Ainslie's Do Not Disturb, the protagonists do a lot of napping, enjoy a lot of intimacy, but also engage in behaviour of the most sinister variety.

do not disturb review

Hoping to get their relationship back on track after a miscarriage, young newlyweds Chloe (Kimberly Laferriere) and Jack (Rogan Christopher) arrive at an "adults only" hotel in Miami for their honeymoon. They're immediately targeted by a horny older couple – Wayne (Christian McKenna) and Wendy (Janet Porter) – and after a night of partying, the two couples begin to engage in a bout of wife-swapping before a jealous Jack calls a halt to proceedings.

The next morning, a badly hungover Chloe and Jack agree to pretend the previous night never happened. While lounging on the beach they're approached by a nonsensically ranting man at the tail end of a very bad trip. The stranger gives them several bags of peyote before drowning himself in the sea.

do not disturb review

It's at this point that Do Not Disturb begins to test the viewer's ability to suspend disbelief. Chloe and Jack simply watch as the man takes his own life and get on with their day. The film has done nothing prior to this point to suggest that they possess such sociopathic natures. Back in their hotel room they decide to take the peyote (I guess they never saw Altered States), and it's from this point on that the movie shifts into gore-soaked horror. It's all a little contradictory, as the film suggests that it's the drugs that are turning Chloe and Jack into monsters, yet they were stone cold sober when they allowed a man to drown himself before their eyes.

Much of Do Not Disturb plays like a vacuous North American take on the sort of extreme genre movies that have been coming out of France over the past couple of decades. It doesn't really have a lot to say, and what little it does have to say is expressed crudely through dialogue that never feels like a couple speaking to one another, but rather a screenwriter desperate to get their point across to the audience.

do not disturb review

Numerous movies have tried to recreate the effects of a drug trip, but it's usually a case of falling back on clichéd trippy visuals. Ainslie does at least buck this trend somewhat, with some clever staging to reflect the passing of hours and days in what amounts to seconds of screen time – it's the sort of clever filmmaking that makes you wish you could see the frantic preparations occurring just out of shot to pull off the effect.

Ultimately, Do Not Disturb is dogged by its inability to figure out whether it's a satirical comedy or something more…well, disturbing. The viewer is left with something close to mental whiplash as scenes of explicit violence suddenly morph awkwardly into bedroom farce. This is reflected in the acting styles of Laferriere and Christopher, with the former playing it straight while the latter approaches Jerry Lewis levels of mugging at times. The comic elements may play to drunken horror film festival audiences, but you can't help but view their addition as a missed opportunity to interrogate relationship issues through the lens of extreme cinema.

Do Not Disturb
 played at Screamfest LA.

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