Some marriages are doomed from the start, and Do Not Disturb focuses on one such couple Jack (Rogan Christopher, Beast Within, Nikita) and Chloe (Kimberly Laferriere, Serpent in the Bottle, White Night) who are on their honeymoon and have more baggage than luggage. Indeed, the weight of past infidelities and Jack’s less than sorrowful reaction to Chloe’s miscarriage one wonders why they actually got married, but here they are checking into a hotel in Miami.
After a brief encounter in the lobby with a chatty couple, Wayne (Christian McKenna, Defining Moments, Claws of the Red Dragon) and Wendy (Janet Porter, Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City, Disappearance at Clifton Hill) they’re in their room and already arguing. ”I love you, man. But I can’t wait my whole life for you to grow up” she tells him at one point, summing everything we’ve seen up nicely.
Lunch with the other couple turns only complicates things when thy turn out to be swingers looking for someone to party with. At this point, you could be forgiven for thinking you were watching a relationship drama, but things soon take a grim turn when, as they sit on the beach arguing about the events of the day before, an obviously troubled man gives them several bags of what turns out to be peyote and designer cocaine then walks into the ocean as they watch. They don’t even try to save him.
Writer/director John Ainslie’s previous credits include writing Jack Brooks: Monster Slayer, as well as writing and directing The Sublet, another genre film centred on a crumbling relationship. But where that film took place in a haunted apartment, Do Not Disturb’s demons are within the couple themselves, just waiting to be released. Something the peyote is more than capable of doing.
Ainslie wisely avoids going over the top and turning Do Not Disturb into Peyote Madness, a temptation Gaspar Noé couldn’t avoid to the detriment of Climax. Instead, he builds things gradually, the initial trip having enough consequences that Chloe refuses to take any more. Jack, acting true to character, then adds some to their salsa. He also lays hints that the trip may have been worse than they remember, hints that play out in the final act as it becomes obvious the couple have had multiple blackouts and running up a massive room service bill may be the least of their problems.
He also lays hints that the trip may have been worse than they remember, hints that play out in the final act as it becomes obvious the couple have had multiple blackouts, at one point a title card tells us that it’s “The night after the day you thought was yesterday”. And running up a massive room service bill may be the least of their problems.
Cinematographer Scott McIntyre (Death on Scenic Drive, Queen of Spades) does a great job shifting from a claustrophobic hotel room to scenic beach shots that include one of the most beautiful looking body disposal scenes I can recall. He also does a good job of handling the film’s trippier moments. The score, written by Ainslie, also helps create the proper moods as the film shifts tone.
I’ve seen some reviews arguing that Do Not Disturb isn’t really a horror film, which I find a little odd. Yes, the first hour is mainly dark drama mixed with moments of equally dark humour. But considering that by the final act characters have gone not just homicidal but cannibalistic, I can’t see not classifying it as something more than a thriller. The presence of several bloody practical effects only serves to reinforce that opinion.
It may be titled Do Not Disturb, but with its look into a severely dysfunctional relationship and the fallout from its disintegration, this film manages to do just that. Its slow burning pace won’t be for some viewers, but those who hang around should enjoy the psychedelic slaughter.