Directed by: James S. Horton’s
Cast: Ernell Manabat, Victoria Viveiros, Gunter Nezhoda
James S. Horton’s Do Not Disturb is a micro flick that follows a firmly established idea of fiction. That is, in part, one of the film’s bigger weaknesses – it does virtually nothing different, and it’s exploring territory that we’ve seen explored quite liberally in just the last few years alone: Grave Encounters, Grave Encounters 2, The Dead Room, Exeter, The Axe Murders of Villisca, The Conjuring, The Conjuring 2, The Innkeepers, The Quiet Ones, Ouija: Origins of Evil, The Apparition, Ghost Team One, Hollows Grove, Apartment 143, and The Atticus Institute are 20 similar themed films that I can think of off the top of my head without a hint of a challenge. When you’re basically remaking a movie that’s been made somewhere in the ballpark of (I’d guess) 50 times in the last decade alone, it’s probably going to be a wise idea to pull out all stops and try to generate some original scares. Sadly, Do Not Disturb doesn’t really make an attempt at conjuring up something new.
Now, that introductory paragraph alone pretty much sums up the plot of the film, so I’ll avoid repetition and move on to some of the other elements of the feature. Let’s take a glance at the cast. If you’re looking for marquee performers, you won’t find them here, these are all essential novices in the game, so their work in front of the camera is generally pretty stiff, and oddly enough, slow, as strange as that may sound. The vocal exchanges, even the shorter exchanges, feel drawn out, almost as if the cast is reading the lines, and struggling to do so, although that’s clearly not the case. It is however a bit of a disappointment, because male lead Ernell Manabat (Flynn) is a likeable guy. He’s poorly cast as the paranormal show’s host, as he really doesn’t bring even the hint of any leadership qualities, but he’s still a really likable guy that you want to see shine in the movie. Victoria Viveiros is sexy and sassy, and she’s probably the most refined performer in the bunch, but she isn’t perfect, either, and she gets a little competition from Gunter Nezhoda (Max) who is wonderfully quirky and does a fine job of stealing a handful of scenes. These are our primary players, and while they can be a bit wooden, and they frequently miss beats, they’re a diverse and likable lot.
What may actually be Horton’s biggest blunder is not stepping into the editing room with Patrick Dobrinen and dropping the ban hammer. At 108 minutes long the film crawls along at a rate that really, really, really challenges the attention span. A solid 30 minutes of this film could’ve been left on the cutting room floor and the pacing would have seen an absolutely enormous improvement and the story wouldn’t have taken a fraction of a hit. Micro films that tell familiar stories need to move quickly to keep the viewer engaged. We already know the story we’re being told, so there’s no need to drag it out excessively. Beyond character introductions, hit us with rapid fire shocks so that we remain invested in the film and have no time to even flirt with boredom. In all honesty, while watching Do Not Disturb, my mind constantly wandered in a myriad of directions. If you’re tuned into a horror film, you shouldn’t be thinking about what you’ve got in the fridge to make for dinner, or whether or not you’ll need to stop for gas before taking your kid to school in the morning, or if the power bill you’re expecting any day will once more exceed $500. You shouldn’t be having these kinds of thoughts while watching a film, and each one of those thoughts literally ran through my mind while watching Do Not Disturb, because I just couldn’t slow my brain enough to match the speed of the film.
There are a few impressive moments, visually speaking, and there’s a damn fine shower scare in the earlier portions of the film, but ultimately Do Not Disturb falls into a slow, telegraphed crawl that unfortunately takes the viewer right out of the film. There’s promise in the cast, and Horton gives us a few interesting camera shots, but the content doesn’t fly anymore and the picture is in need of a major trim job. Today’s moviegoer craves explosions every thirty seconds and over the top action sequences every five minutes. If you can’t give that to the audience, and you have trouble manufacturing psychological dread, you’ve got to find a way to keep the scares moving quickly. That doesn’t happen here and apparently the supernatural elements of this flick paid heed to the title and did not disturb.