Popcorn Frights Review: John Ainslie Bites Into Love, Flesh & Peyote With ‘Do Not Disturb’
A superbly edited travel montage doubling as an opening credits sequence stylishly opens John Ainslie’s sophomore feature film Do Not Disturb, as viewers are effectively introduced to the South Florida setting and lead characters in the process. Chloe (Kimberly Laferriere of In The Dark, injecting a great deal of nuance into her show-stealing performance) and Jack (Rogan Christopher of 2018’s limited event return of The X-Files embodying the selfishness of his character) are a newlywed couple on their honeymoon in Miami, though it’s clear from the get-go that they’re not the typical happy honeymooners. The duo encounters a very oddly forward couple in the lobby of the hotel who they quickly manage to dodge, but their incessant arguing starts almost instantaneously upon entering their suite. It’s soon revealed they have quite a lot of emotional baggage from a traumatic history they’ve shared together, the heaviest of which being that around six months prior to this vacation, Chloe had an unexpected miscarriage. Jack makes it obvious he didn’t want to have the child and was somewhat relieved by this tragedy when he begins making excuses not to try again after Chloe mentions it.
Upon entering the hotel restaurant in an attempt to put their problems behind them for now, they’re greeted by the annoying couple they previously evaded and are already being waved over to their table. Wayne (Christian McKenna of Missing Pieces) and Wendy (Janet Porter of Resident Evil: Welcome to Raccoon City), despite their bizarre nature, appear to be an extremely happy and loving couple who have much of what Chloe longs for in her own relationship. They plan to “party” together later that night, which leads to more trouble in this would-be paradise following an uncomfortable sexual situation between the two couples. The next day Chloe points out a man on the beach who wakes up acting rather intoxicated and Jack stands as they’re approached by this fellow, who proceeds to drop several bags of drugs beside them during an incoherent rant before walking into the ocean to never surface again. Jack wants to sell the drugs but Chloe responsibly tells him how stupid that is so after a quick online search identifies the bagged substance as peyote, he bullies her into eating it with him. This sets off what becomes a dark shift in tone across the back half of the film as the couple endures multiple days of psychedelic hallucinations, unchecked desire, memory loss, and even cannibalistic murder while they continuously lose touch with reality from consuming asinine quantities of peyote. Various characters cleverly come back into play during their psychological trip, leading to a shockingly violent conclusion set to the thematically appropriate Flux Pavilion remix of Nero’s hit song “Must Be The Feeling.”
The main attraction of Do Not Disturb is its highly engaging script, but the aforementioned performances, stellar electronic soundtrack and slick, ultra-wide cinematography really enhance an already worthwhile cinematic experience. Heaps of fully practical blood and gore fill out the final act and it all looks superbly realized. A few scenes in the front half could be shortened to trim down the slightly drawn out ninety-two minute runtime, but it’s almost impossible to look away at any point for fear of what might happen next so by the time the real craziness rolls around time is violently flying by. It’s also worth mentioning there’s a lot of dark comedy present, with plenty of laugh out loud moments throughout if you have the appropriately twisted sense of humor to stomach them. Aside from being absolutely insane to watch unfold the film contains plenty of biting commentary on the complacency of modern relationships and how people often sacrifice their deepest desires for the permanent companionship of another, sometimes without even really considering the long-term repercussions of this decision beforehand. Think before you commit, especially if it’s in regards to the one you love, because as John Ainslie kindly reminds us here: love is all-consuming.