63 of 70 people found the following review helpful
on April 22, 2007
Kale (Shia Labeouf), a teenager who recently lost his father in a car accident, is on house arrest after punching his teacher. He soon gets bored with too much time on his hands and starts spying on his sexy new neighbor Ashley (Sarah Roemer). One night, while watching the news on TV, Kale hears about a missing girl and an eyewitness report describing a suspect's car. Kale realizes that his next door neighbor, Mr. Turner (David Morse), has the same vintage car of the same color also with a dent in the bumper. Mr. Turner brings a woman home one night and Kale witnesses some rough play through the open curtains. He begins to suspect him of being the missing girl's killer and starts to spy on him with cameras and binoculars.
Disturbia is directed by D.J. Caruso (The Salton Sea, Taking Lives) and is molded after Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller, Rear Window. I really wasn't expecting too much from this one other than it was a Caruso film, a director whose work I admire. I must say that I was pleasantly surprised; the plot and characters sucked me in almost right away. The film has a similar premise as the one in Rear Window, but with all its gadgets, flashy shot compositions, and younger target audience, it really feels like a fresh approach to a cool idea.
The script was well written in the sense that it took time to set things up, to develop its characters, and provide us with enough twists and turns so that we never have time to look at our watches. The tension increases a lot in the last half-hour of the film and builds to a climax that doesn't fall into the clichés of the recent suspense/thrillers. Shia Labeouf shows promise as a young actor, bringing depth to his character. Sarah Roemer was also pretty good, showing us that she's more than a pretty face and a hot body. David Morse (The Rock, The Green Mile) was great as usual as the neighbor who may-or-may-not-be a serial killer. Caruso's got another hit under his belt, much more satisfying than Taking Lives was for that matter.
If you're a fan of Hitchcock's Rear Window, you might really enjoy this one; it's much more than your average sugar-coated teenage flick. Horror fans and thriller aficionados will find something to sink their teeth in as well. Definitely worth the price of admission.
30 of 35 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2007
What a pleasant surprise! I'm the world's biggest Hitchcock fan, and well past my adolescent years, so I wasn't expecting a lot from a new flick that every critic in America said was "REAR WINDOW with teens." But this film actually works on its own merits, and the chief merit is Shia LaBeouf. I haven't been this impressed with a new talent since I saw Keisha Castle-Hughes in WHALE RIDER, or when I saw 15-year-old Matthew Broderick in the Broadway play, BRIGHTON BEACH MEMOIRS, some 25 years ago. This Shia guy is the real deal, and I have a feeling DISTURBIA will go down in the books as the film that really broke him out to a long, high-profile career.
Older folks, take note: This is not your average "teen thriller," nor is it a simple ripoff of Hitchcock. It is a clever, exciting new entity, expertly directed by D. J. Caruso. And the young lead is a perfect combination of Jimmy Stewart in REAR WINDOW (in the first 75 minutes) and Jodie Foster in SILENCE OF THE LAMBS (in the final 30 minutes), and every bit as good as both of them. Give DISTURBIA a try--I think you'll like it.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
"Disturbia" isn't original. It isn't too scary or gory either. What it is, though, is a fun popcorn yarn about a teen named Kale (Shia LeBeouf) who's placed under house arrest for taking out a little internal anguish on a Spanish teacher. His mother (Carrie-Anne Moss) takes away his television, his music and his X-box. What's a bored teen living in suburbia to do to pass the time? Spy on the neighbors, of course. It helps that his newest neighbor, Ashley (Sarah Roemer), is a knockout and takes regularly scheduled swims and rooftop reading breaks. Once he has all of his neighbors' daily lives timed perfectly, he introduces his friend, Ronnie (Aaron Yoo), to his voyeuristic world. The duo gets caught spying on Ashley but she ends up befriending them when they tell her that they believe one particular neighbor, Mr. Turner (the underused David Morse), might be a serial killer from Texas who was never captured.
This sets the film into motion. The three friends try to uncover the truth about their very private neighbor. The only problem is that with each clue they find that might lead to the truth, Turner seems to be one step ahead of them. Things get even crazier when the police think that Kale is crying wolf over everything.
What I really enjoyed about this film is that it's very funny. I'm not talking about it being funny in a sophomoric, slasher movie way, there's some very smart humor here. Director D.J. Caruso keeps the humor spread just thin enough to keep the suspense at an acceptable level. The cast is very likeable. LeBeouf has an ever-present goofiness about him, but when he needs to be afraid or angry, he pulls it off perfectly. Morse is sneaky and sinister at the same time. Whether he's a murderer or not, the guy will creep you out. Moss is solid, but has a very small role to fill. LeBeouf's pals do a good job as well.
The DVD doesn't have much to offer outside of the film that's worth more than one look. There's the standard "Making Of" featurette, outtakes, a forgettable music video, deleted scenes, and a photo gallery. The digital transfer is good, and the audio is nice as well.
Overall, "Disturbia" is a very fun suspense flick. It's not Hitchcock-caliber, but then again, so few films are. If you want Hitchcock, don't watch "Disturbia." If you want a good film to watch for a quiet evening at home, this film's the one for you.
13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
on August 9, 2007
It's always exciting to see a new star on the rise. I don't know what IT is, but Shia LaBeouf has IT is spades. I'm a fan of 'Rearview' and think this is a good modern take on the classic. Though I do have to agree that the last third of the film begins to loose major points just in the sheer illogical motives of the killer. If you are going to be a psycho killer-why on earth would you live in the suburbs? Everyone knows everyone's business there...and you mean to tell me that one one would know this man was digging to China in the garage? Given how close all the houses were-no one else heard women screaming from his place? C'mon. If you can force logic to take a vacation during the movie's durance, you can actually have a pretty good time. Overall: worth watching.
23 of 30 people found the following review helpful
While at the local multiplex watching this fine show, a few seats down from me a young teenaged boy was holding his head in his hands through most of the film, and he could be heard muttering, "I can't take this...oh my god...this is too much..." At one point, he got up and *ran* out of the theater, causing his three friends no small embarrassment. His reactions were almost more entertaining than the movie. I can't imagine this poor kid sitting through something meant to be truly frightening. I gave myself a giggle or two imagining him sliding to the popcorn-and-Coke-caked floors during the urination scene from The Exorcist while sucking his thumb and humming nursery rhymes. Poor guy.
Speaking of other films, this one bore more than a passing resemblance to Rear Window. I was also reminded of The Blair Witch Project (this may just be me - but if you see it, think of this toward the end of the film when a certain someone was walking around another certain someone's basement).
Caruso didn't do a bad job with Disturbia, but he didn't "do Hitchcock proud". He was very fortunate to have Shia LaBeouf in the lead role. LaBeouf didn't bring James Stewart to mind, but he did make me forget from time to time that I was watching a dumbed down, high-tech Rear Window. As many have said, LaBeouf does have tremendous talent, and seems headed for stardom (despite Dumb and Dumberer).
The story is fairly simple. Kale (LaBeouf) is put under house arrest for punching his Spanish teacher - although truth be told, if the Spanish teacher had thrown my dead father in my face I might have punched him too. Too coincidentally, the police officer assigned (or who assigns himself) to keep an eye on Kale is the Spanish teacher's cousin, and his treatment of Kale leaves a bit to be desired.
Stuck alone in a beautiful house, after his Mom has taken away his iTunes, Xbox, and flat screen TV, Kale turns to the only form of entertainment left to him - spying on the lives of others. There is one such "other" who particularly intrigues him: his new next door neighbor, Ashley (Sarah Roemer), who does a swimsuit proud. Kale and his (requisite) silly friend Ronnie (Aaron Yoo) take turns with the binoculars enjoying her presence until she catches them at it one day (I'm not giving anything away here because it's in the trailers for the film). As reason would indicate, she then befriends them.
Kale becomes suspicious of his next door neighbor, and is certain that he is the person responsible for a rash of missing women. The ensuing cat and mouse game between them is made more enjoyable by the gadgets that LaBeouf's character has that James Stewart's didn't, but the next door neighbor, "Mr. Turner" (David Morse, who with much shorter hair played a very convincing cop with a grudge against Greg House earlier this season in House), wasn't as, well, icky as I would have liked him to be. He's foreboding, and formidable, but a serial killer needs an "ick factor". (That's a new technical term...<grin>).
6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
on August 12, 2007
Alfred Hitchcock just won't go away. It has been 30 years since Hitchcock directed his last film, "Family Plot", but his work still seems fresh and original as it continues to inspire young directors. In 2007 we have already had two Hitchcockian rip-offs, "Vacancy" and this film.
"Disturbia" follows Kale (Shia LaBeouf) who is sentenced to three months house arrest after hitting his Spanish teacher, after the teacher made insensitive remarks towards Kale's dad who passed away in a suspious car accident in which Kale was also part of.
Kale is about to go stir crazy after his mother, Julie (Carrie-Anne Moss) takes away his x-box, TV and itunes, now Kale may actually have to do something constructive! But don't worry, Kale is not going to fall for that, he creates a nice diversion for himself by spying on his neighbors who include a new family to the neighborhood and their very pretty daughter, Ashley (Sarah Roemer) as well as Mr. Turner (David Morse), whom Kale suspects is actually a serial killer responsible for the recent disappearances of several young girls.
Now if the idea of a person locked up in their house, spying on their neighbors and thinking they have unwittingly stumbled upon a murder scene reminds you of anything it should be Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window".
"Rear Window" has Jimmy Stewart as a wheel-chair bound photographer whom after spying on his neighbors thinks he has seen one of them kill their wife. Now, with the help of Grace Kelly and Thelma Ritter, the trio will try to solve the case the police seem to ignore.
I guess that makes Shia LaBeouf the Jimmy Stewart of this movie, Sarah Roemer is our Grace Kelly and LaBeouf's best friend in the movie, Ronnie (Aaron Yoo) is our Thelma Ritter. Of course the obviously fault with the film, when compared to the work of Hitchcock is, the movie isn't nearly as suspenseful or well crafted.
"Disturbia" suffers from two problems. Number one it goes for cheap scares. It follows the basic formula most thrillers follow and because of that it leads us to our second problem. The movie is predictable. We know Mr. Turner is going to be the killer and Kale was right all along if for any reason, does it seem logical for a movie to take us down this path, build up all this "suspense", devote so much time to this idea, and then suddenly it turns out not to be Mr. Turner? Also, what other suspects does Kale have? So, since all the chips are placed on Mr. Turner being the killer, it simply must be.
So okay, right now you are saying, well you know what moron, when I saw "Rear Window" I knew Raymond Bur was the killer. Here's the difference. Since we know how the film is going to turn out, the only thing which will keep our interest will be the characters. It's all we have left. Unless the film is smartly written and strongly acted we have no reason to continue watching. And that is where "Disturbia" goes wrong. I didn't care about these characters. Whether they live or die had no impact on me. I was never fully involved in what was going on.
Shia LaBeouf seems to be getting a lot of work lately. He has already created a persona for himself. In nearly every film he is in he plays the same character. The geeky, well meaning, loser who lust after the pretty girl who doesn't notice him. In his world he think he is cool, to the rest of us, he is out of touch. Watch him in "I, Robot" or "Transformers" and you will see what I mean. I'm not saying LaBeouf has no talent. He does, but just like any other actor, he needs a good script. His persona worked in other films, but here he doesn't seem compelling on-screen.
The rest of the cast actually out shines LaBeouf. Supporting players like Roemer and Yoo are far more interesting to watch. Yoo is given better jokes and Roemer is simply better looking than LaBeouf so my eyes tended to follow her more when the two were both in a scene together.
The film was directed by D.J. Caruso. Caruso is a good director. A few years ago he directed a Val Kilmer movie called "The Salton Sea". It was a truly great film. He followed it up with an Angelina Jolie thriller, "Taking Lives", which I didn't like. But Caruso has talent. He can direct a scene and know how to get the most from his characters as was the case with Kilmer and Jolie. But what hurts him here is the script. Carl Ellsworth co-wrote the film, and even he too has done better. He wrote the thriller "Red Eye" which worked much better. That film had interesting characters and had a few suspenseful moments.
"Disturbia" may have a nice look to some but really isn't a very engaging picture. The cast and director are both talented but there is little anyone could do with this weak script.
Bottom-line: An Alfred Hitchcock knock-off that isn't anywhere near as suspenseful as the master's films. Good cast and director but the weak script brings everything to a halt.
5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
on July 19, 2007
In a battle over which of these two movies is better, the answer is hands down: Rear Window! Lets face it, "Disturbia" may be updated, but its characters are just over used anechdotes of the failed horror movies of today. 16 year-old underdog, sexy girl, mother who doesn't believe boy til end and of course the killer.
Now lets observe the differences critics should consider:
Lead Male Character:
Kale-a boy who is under house arrest for PUNCHING OUT HIS TEACHER. If I'm correct, that would never happen in reality. He spies on the girl next door because his mommy takes away his toys.
Jeff-a photographer with a broken leg, has limited mobility after an accident on assignment. He can't do anything except eat, drink, be with his girlfriend and watch the neighbors. Much more believeable
Lead Female Character:
Ashley-A girl who lives next door to Kale and feels attracted to him when she catches him watching her strip. CREEPY. She easily believes Kale when he says his neighbor is a serial killer and follows him all the way.
Lisa-A sophisticated model who loves Jeff and would go with him to a jungle if he were assigned to go there. She detests his voyeurism and wants him to marry her. She doesn't believe Jeff about the neighbor Mr. Thorwald at first until she notices something that the cops just shrug off, he has her jewelry. "Why would she just leave her jewelry if she is going on a trip?" She has strength of her own because she is Jeff's access into Mr. Thorwald's house.
Mr. Thorwald-A salesman who is married and after he kills his wife because of an affair he is having and his wife's nagging. He shows no obvious signs of the murder he has commited and he does his best to hide every shred of evidence against him, including his wife.
Mr. Turner-A neighbor who acts like a nice guy, but really isn't. He just killed a woman and left a dent in his car. A dent, Kale can see very easily as can we. Then he kills another woman in his home after he is being searched for and where Kale can see the murder taking place. He isn't exactly subtle or smart when it comes to hiding the proof that he did it. In fact it is so obvious that it makes the movie less suspenseful. What does he do, wait til someone finds out his secret and kills them. Then he's left with another murder to not clean up.
The story in "Disturbia" is just straight forward because we know everything and the film tries desperately to mirror Hitchcock. While "Rear Window's" story takes a while before everyone's convinced enough to try and catch the killer. It even comes to the point where the killer hides the evidence so well he has Jeff second-guessing his theory at one point. That is why Rear Winow works and Disturbia does not.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
First things first, the only similarity this 2007 movie has with Alfred Hitchcock's classic voyeuristic thriller, 1954's Rear Window, is the basic concept of a temporarily immobile protagonist who sees highly suspicious activity from a distance only to find he may be endangered by what he may have witnessed. Other than the central plot device, the comparison falls apart since director D.J. Caruso (The Salton Sea) seems intent on making a teen-oriented thrill ride driven by angst and hormones. The focal point is teenaged Kale Brecht who has to spend his summer under police surveillance through a motion-detection ankle bracelet. The laborious set-up for this situation takes a good half-hour, though this is likely the best part of the film as it begins with a car crash visceral in impact and impressive in technical execution.
Reeling from the tragic results of the accident, Kale punches his Spanish teacher in the face, for which the bracelet is his punishment. Increasingly bored and incorrigible, he has his electronic toys taken away by his exasperated mother, leaving him nothing to do but watch his neighbors with binoculars. Two figures new to the neighborhood come into focus - Ashley, a comely neighbor who becomes Kale's object of pubescent desire, and Mr. Turner, a taciturn bachelor whose suspicious behavior peaks Kale's interest and imagination. What happens next is unfortunately predictable and downright lazy, as screenwriters Carl Ellsworth and Christopher B. Landon eschew much of the psychological elements of the supposedly tense situation in favor of overly familiar, crowd-pleasing scare tactics.
The violent, drawn-out finale is beyond absurd and further saddled by the restrictions of the film's PG-13 rating. In a role almost identical to the one he plays in Transformers, Shia LaBeouf brings energy and at times surprising gravity to Kale though not enough to compensate for the script's shortcomings. Sarah Roemer, looking like a cross between Kate Hudson and Jessica Biel, plays Ashley as a stock Lolita figure at least until she is called on conveniently to become resourceful. Even though he has the funniest lines, Aaron Yoo's role as goofball best pal Ronnie is poorly conceived to fit the plot machinations, and bereft of her Matrix coolness factor, Carrie-Anne Moss seems ill-used as Kale's put-upon mother. With his soft voice and unshakable manner, David Morse looks like he is having a good time playing Turner, but the character's revelations toward the end unravel any momentum of fear he was able to muster before.
The 2007 DVD has the standard set of extras with the most prominent being a rather flat, undisciplined commentary track from Caruso, LaBeouf and Roemer and a marginally better fifteen-minute making-of featurette. "The Making of Disturbia". There are four deleted scenes, all serving to deepen the relationship between Kale and his mother, and a few outtakes, mostly around the opening fishing sequence. Also included is the theatrical trailer, a pop-up quiz that is really a series of pop-up bubbles and a Caruso-directed music video of "Don't Make Me Wait" by This World Fair.
4 of 5 people found the following review helpful
on August 7, 2007
Ever watch a movie that you think will be terrible like the recent genre has been dishing out only to find it's actually...good? Well in Disturbia's case I wouldn't use the word "good" but considering the amount of bad horror/thriller films released lately, you're kind of surprised Disturbia's at least memorable. While it does have its flaws and spots of stupidness on some characters' part, it's fairly engaging if sort-of familiar thriller.
Kale Brecht is a 17 year old kid who loses his dad a year earlier when their vehicle gets into a pretty brutal car accident. Now, he's still pretty sore and emotionally turned off which doesn't help when his Spanish teacher makes a comment about his dad, prompting Kale to hit the guy. Instead of jail, he's put under house arrest with an electronic bracelet attached to his leg which alerts the police should he leave his yard.
Now completely bored since his mom cancelled his iTunes and XBox-Live, he decides to start spying on some neighbours, including new hottie Ashley. But there's someone else in the neighborhood, namely Robert Turner who Kale believes is a serial killer. With the help of Ashley, his friend Ronnie and some high-tech gadgets, Kale tries to figure out whether his neighbor really is a wanted killer.
First off, it's nice to see a thriller actually develop characters and ideas rather than just go off to the races and start amping up the tension. While it doesn't really work because the characters are still one note by the end of it, you still gotta appreciate a more slower opening. But that doesn't mean the characters are exempt from dumb ideas and illogical decisions. For instance, why put a camera on a car when you want to actually film something else, and then there's smaller stuff like why be bored because your X-Box is taken away yet not hook it up to a different TV? Or keep manipulating the camera to get better views when it's already hooked up to the TV. Or why he takes so long to figure out how far the safe distance is from the bracelet receiver?
The film though at least is a bit more active than its obvious spirit and homage to Hitchcock's "Rear Window". But whereas that film had an incapacitated James Stewart, Kale is more active and just as likable thanks to Shia Lebeouf who has that everyman quality without being that sort of too-bright-for-his-years wisdom most have. Everyone else is fine but no one particularly special. While David Morse seems the logical choice for the soft-spoken Mr. Turner, it seems like lazy casting since he's played shady characters before so there's not a lot of doubt on whether he really is the killer or not. Then we have a character, played by former Muchmusic VJ Amanda Walsh who practically disappears from the story and yet didn't contribute anything anyways. Why bother including her?
It's suspenseful and its certainly better than stuff like the Texas Chainsaw prequel and Saw III but taken on its own, it's a pretty good but not exceptional thriller.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on September 1, 2009
Alfred Hitchcock's "Rear Window" is an absolute classic. It ranks with "The Birds," "Psycho," and "North by Northwest" as one of his finest films. "Disturbia" on the other hand . . . well I will honestly say that I still think "Rear Window" is far superior to this fairly horrible re-imagining. And I mean "fairly" horrible, because Shia LeBeouf, Carrie-Ann Moss, and David Morse give very good performances. But aside from that, "Disturbia" is pretty much a weak thriller. It involves cheap scares, lame humor, and a really mediocre script. It did have some decent moments, but other than that, I consider this as bad as other thrillers that have been released in this certain decade that we're living in right now. I still choose "Rear Window."