October 16, 2018 Deviant Behavior (Movie Review)
Deviant Behavior is the brainchild of Director Jacob Grim (Useless 2013, Dreadtime Stories 2014) and Writer Sal Hernandez (The Roommate 2013, The Deal 2015). The film started production in late August 2015, and, two years later, it made its debut on the film festival circuit. But on October 23, 2018, STX Media and SGL Entertainment will be releasing in select theaters as well as on VOD, DVD and Blu-ray.
In it, Michael Thorn (Pablo Schmitt: A Good Day 2011) commissions a sleazy private detective called Charlie (Eric Rodrigue: No Clue 2011, Operation Einzelganger 2013) to find his sister, Carrie (Hannah Valadez). She was last seen with a seemingly normal man, called Walter (Alex Heatherley: Adult Rated Insanity 2012, The Violent States of America 2017), who is hiding both a grim fetish as well as a transgender killer called Hunny (L.G Koruptore). Can Charlie find the missing girl before Walter and Huny have their way with her, and can he keep them from finding his hooker girlfriend Roxy (Tania Monroy: Peace, Love + Sunshine 2014)?
Well, it worked for 1983’s Sleepaway Camp, 1991’s Silence of the Lambs and 1994’s Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, so why not? The roles of trans and non-binary people in media could make for a good (and potentially heavy) discussion, but that is best saved for better films than this one. There is not much nuance to this story; what one sees is what one gets. Charlie’s character- the alcoholic P.I. – is almost as old as cinema itself; ditto scenes like him knocking back a whisky, looking at a photo of the missing person, and asking where they are, which is an important part of Film Noir 101.
Granted, the attempts at Film Noir clash when the film switches back to Hunny sorting through her masks and moving her preserved bits in a jar. Silence of the Lambs managed to mix Horror and Detective Fiction by balancing the two elements out, but here it feels like Philip Marlowe entering the house from 1974’s The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. Only it does not quite live up to that bonkers-sounding premise: despite the gore, it is quite dull.
The acting does not help pep things up. Rodrigue does the best out of the bunch, coming off as a cynical sleazebag with some skeletons next to the Scotch in the closet. Heatherley looks like he is having fun playing one half of a psychotic duo too, but people have done their characters better in other films. The rest of the cast range from mediocre to stiff, either playing familiar archetypes or seeming like they are reading their lines. They are not Wiseau-level bad, but they do not provide much to talk about. L.G Koruptore essentially plays Hunny as Michael Myers in a wig.
Deviant Behavior‘s best moments are largely down to its direction, makeup and effects. The gore is fine: it is not wall-to-wall and will not set anyone off, aside from the particularly squeamish, and it looks convincing enough on-screen. There is even the occasional directorial flourish, offering a few fancy angles and fades that look rather nice. Beyond that, the editing is rather rigid. One shot clunks into the next like a jigsaw piece; nothing sticks out like a sore thumb, but it does not stick in the mind either.
That ultimately sums Deviant Behavior up as a whole. The plot and characters feel like tropes stuck together in a story made up of stock elements. The acting is not god awful, the direction is competent enough, and the music is suitably menacing. Yet it lacks that extra care and attention to make it stand out. Other films have done the grizzled detective, sexual deviants and hookers with hearts of gold to better success. Anyone who watches this film would be hard-pressed to remember it the next morning. Thus, for these reasons, CrypticRock gives Deviant Behavior 2 out of 5 stars.