Review Date: September 19, 2007
Director: D.J. Caruso
Writer: Christopher Landon, Carl Ellsworth
Producers: Jackie Marcus, Joe Medjuck, Bennett Walsh
Shia LaBeouf as Kale
Sarah Roemer as Ashley
David Morse as Mr. Turner
A troubled teen is placed under “house arrest” after an altercation with a teacher, as is forced to stay inside his house for a period of three months. Lucky for him though, a hottie who likes to swim every day moves in next door, but unlucky for him, she also moves in next to another guy who might just be a friggin’ serial killer! The film examines the paranoid state of our society today, but also grabs everything it learned from Hitchcock’s REAR WINDOW and modernizes it for our technologically advanced asses.
One of the big sleepers of the year, DISTURBIA didn’t feel like the kind of film that would surprise, especially considering that it’s essentially just an updated modernized techie version of Alfred Hitchcock’s REAR WINDOW, but considering that most of its target audience likely hasn’t seen (or even heard) of that film, I guess most solid thrillers will stand up over time, if done correctly. In this case, director D.J. Caruso, lead Shia LaBoeuf and creepy neighbor David Morse, all do it correctly, as Caruso manages to keep things both light and very dark during different points of this production, and all without hamming it up or dumbing it down to any great degree. LaBeouf does an amazing job as the main attraction of the film, not only because he’s in practically every scene in the movie and manages to swing through a wide variety of emotions, all very well, but also because he’s a charismatic actor, who despite being somewhat of a prick in the movie, still manages to make the audience like and even root for his chaperoned ass. As for Morse, what can you say about a man who apparently decided to go “method” for this role, not speaking or fraternizing with any of the kids on this film’s set. And it shows! His one-on-ones with both Labeouf and hottie actress Sarah Roemer oozed of underlying tension, and I think Morse is one of the few actors who can pull off both the really sweet looking guy and the super-intimidating monster so very well, i.e. he be creepy, yo!
The film also moves at a brisk pace, provides insight into the sordid lives of teenagers these days (X-Box Live, check! iTunes, check! Cell phones, text messengers, check, check!!) and manages a nice mix of comedy, drama, suspense and let’s not forget…thrills! And even though I spent most of the picture saying to myself, “Yeah, it’s fun and all, but not really exciting or thrilling”, the film’s final 20 minutes shut my pie-hole right up with plenty of action, gore and scares for the scareddy-cat in all of us. I guess my two main points of contention versus the film were its lack of real chemistry between LaBeouf and Roemer – who might own one of the greatest asses in the history of motion pictures, but can’t seem to act on the same level as the Beef-man – and its obvious conventions, which as per most films that deal with one person “spying” on another, didn’t really surprise or veer from the expected. So yes, granted…you basically know what kind of cheese you’ll be getting on your nachos, but that doesn’t necessarily make the nachos any less tasty, if predictable (I hope that analogy made sense, but I’m pretty sure it doesn’t). Bottom line, the film entertains and thrills, doesn’t outlast its stay but ultimately doesn’t really bring anything new to the table, so if you’re looking for originality, this might not be the film to place at the top of your list, but certainly, it’s a fun ride for anyone looking for…well, a fun ride, I suppose. As for the “peekaboo Ronnie” in the last scene…pulleeze, people! PS: FRIGHT NIGHT is another fun play on REAR WINDOW…but with vampires, to boot!! Rent it!
(c) 2016 Berge Garabedian