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’Do Not Disturb’ review: Dir. John Ainslie [FrightFest]

Getting married is meant to be the happiest day of your life and the holiday that follows, the honeymoon, is supposed to be even greater. Sometimes things don’t go smoothly however, as several Arrow Video FrightFest films have shown over the years. In 2014, director Leigh Janiak birthed a honeymoon hell at Arrow Video FrightFest with her debut, Honeymoon. Now, eight years on, writer and director John Ainslie follows in her shoes with his own brand of messed-up post-nuptial nightmare. 

Do Not Disturb

Set ‘some time ago in Miami’, Do Not Disturb discloses the story of Chloe (Kimberly Laferriere) and Jack (Rogan Christopher). Although having been together forever, the pair have only just tied the knot. Given the intense atmosphere between them, the audience immediately get the impression that their decision to get married was a bad one. Whereas Honeymoon’s Bea and Paul were the perfect couple, Chloe and Jack are not. They are as far-removed from loved-up honeymooners as can be and their fraught relationship generates some early tension. This becomes increasingly apparent when placed next to Wendy (Janet Porter) and Wayne (Christian McKenna) who are regular guests at the hotel. Whereas Chloe and Jack can barely look at each other, these two can’t keep their hands off of one another. The juxtaposition of relationship dynamics ratchets the tension further and forces Chloe and Jack to make some drastic choices. In a bid to cut loose from the troubles circling their relationship, the pair opt to get high, and this is when the trouble really gets started. 

An exploration of relationships and their power to overwhelm, Do Not Disturb itself is allconsuming. The claustrophobic primary setting of a small hotel room pulls the viewer in, creating a sense of intimacy. Positioned as a fly on the wall, the audience has a front row seat to the events that transpire as they literally share the marital bed with Chloe and Jack. The closer the viewer gets, the more unhinged the couple become. Do Not Disturb ventures into some very sticky situations and the audience become intertwined and an unwilling accomplice. The toxicity of a failed relationship looms large from the outset and the more that happens, the more glaringly obvious it is that Chloe and Jack are not a good fit.

Jack has been beating Chloe down forever. She feels trapped by him. She’s invested so many years into the relationship that to call it quits now would be admitting defeat. As downtrodden as Chloe appears on first impressions, it quickly becomes clear that she is the stroger of the two. Jack often feels like a whining man-child, purely focussed on his own needs and desires. Chloe surrenders her own wants in favour of proving that she hasn’t wasted her life with him. As the drugs take hold and new hungers are awakened, Chloe begins to reassess her way of thinking, and sees a route out through Jack. 

Do Not Disturb excels with its metaphors and examinations of domestic disturbia. Ainslie’s script perfectly encapsulates that feeling of being trapped. She follows this through by literally trapping the characters in a pressure-cooker environment. With a need to stay hidden from the other hotel guests, Chloe and Jack become each other’s entire world, which is presented as a warm and hazy dwelling that looks so muggy that you can almost feel the sweat. The curtains remain drawn and that helps both the feeling of being closed in, and also how cut off from society the pair are. It casts a deep orange light across the walls; although little of Miami is seen, the viewer always believes in the temperature lurking outside. 

Another technical highlight comes in how Ainslie constructs and edits the drug trips. These sequences are vibrant and conjure up that hallucinogenic, out-of-sorts sensation. Much of this comes via some super simple cuts; easy time jumps in conversations and ever changing costumes communicate the passing of time and just how out of it the leads are. The performances of both Laferriere and Christopher compliment the technical wizardry and much like in Joe Begos’ Bliss, the viewer fully believes them to be high as a kite. The strength of their performance continues, their commitment to the project worthy of commendation. Contrary to Chloe and Jack, Laferriere and Christopher have worked hard to create trust. Through this the pair can access the trickier, bloodier and more intimate aspects of the story.  

Do Not Disturb is an excellent study of the breakdown of a relationship. Close to being a contender for this year’s “good for her ” genre film, Ainslie’s film is as allconsuming as the relationship it is showcasing. The heartbreak of Honeymoon came in the destruction of a solid union. In Do Not Disturb the destruction of the core relationship is where the beauty in the film lies. An example of a bad romance in every sense, Do Not Disturb is enthralling horror that thrills, entices, and titillates, becoming something rather unique and unexpected. 

Do Not Disturb

Kat Hughes

Do Not Disturb


The consuming nature of toxic relationships comes to light in this excellently executed holiday nightmare.


Do Not Disturb was reviewed at Arrow Video FrightFest 2022. 

Kat Hughes is a UK born film critic and interviewer who has a passion for horror films. An editor for THN, Kat is also a Rotten Tomatoes Approved Critic. She has bylines with Ghouls Magazine, Arrow Video, Film Stories, Certified Forgotten and FILMHOUNDS and has had essays published in home entertainment releases by Vinegar Syndrome and Second Sight. When not writing about horror, Kat hosts micro podcast Movies with Mummy along with her five-year-old daughter.


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