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.
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.
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.
"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.
on November 30, 2014
Americans HATE teenagers lately. There's a great This American Life where John Hodgman asks a woman if, granted with a superpower, she would have any desire for a teenage sidekick. I paraphrase here just a little bit. "Yeah, sure," says the woman, "Someone with powers that complement mine, that would be good."
"No," says Hodgman, "The sidekick wouldn't have any powers."
"Oh," says the woman, with an air of repulsion. "You mean it would just be a...teenager...hanging out with me? No. No."
There's one star who has done an extremely good job at getting around this antipathy, Shia LaBeouf, and for good reason: he can really act. He's not the only one, but he has really excellent chops and they're on display here.
And Denzel Washington may be the most famous alumnus of that incredible show, St Elsewhere, but my favorite is David Morse, for performances like the one he gives here.
And what red-blooded, heterosensitive male can object to the brilliant Sarah Roemer prancing around in a skimpy string bikini. Not me!!!
DISTURBIA from 2007 began promisingly, but deteriorated toward its end. The idea of updating REAR WINDOW from 1954 to the 21st Century is sound (instead of Jimmy Stewart confined to a small apartment with a broken leg, we have teenaged Shia LeBoeuf electronically confined to his house and yard for the summer after slugging a teacher who goaded him). The principal actors are all fine, especially LeBoeuf in the troubled lead role, Sarah Roemer as his would-be new girlfriend, and David Morse as the suspiciously behaving neighbor who "only wants privacy." Unfortunately, the movie turns from interesting psychological interplay to something like a routine stalker movie in its last quarter, complete with a hostage and chasing through the basement. DISTURBIA is entertaining -- but hardly surprising. People who have seen neither movie would probably be much better off with REAR WINDOW.
on October 14, 2014
This movie was pretty good! The whole family watched it, but we might have traumatized our 13 year old. It has a couple jump in your seats moments but it is not a horror movie. Just a good thriller.
on June 29, 2014
While the filmmakers don't call this a remake of "Rear Window" (there was actually a lawsuit over this issue), this movie does provide a nice twist on this classic tale. Kale Brecht, played by Shia LaBeouf, is placed on house arrest after he punches his teacher, the man having made a snide remark about his recently deceased father. While confined to his house, Kale takes to spying on his neighbors and comes to believe that the man living next door, played by David Morse, is a serial killer. This film is full of witty dialogue, especially from the teenaged actors, and most of it is funny. You might think it's just another slasher film, and I'll admit that the ending sort of goes down that road, but it overall strives to be something more. Overall, it succeeds. The kids are likable...and more importantly, relatable. David Morse is wonderfully creepy. The plot never slacks off, though it does lag very slightly at times...personally I'd rather have that than if there was constant danger and suspense from beginning to end. And it's not just some film about teenagers. I liked it. You might too. Go ahead and give it a watch. Enjoy.
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.
on September 13, 2015
"Disturbia" is a well-made, very entertaining thriller.
"Disturbia" has a male confined to his house who becomes a voyeur and sees a neighbor whom he thinks is a murderer. A deadly battle of wits ensues.
LaBoef portrays Kale Brecht who is placed under house arrest after he punches his Spanish teacher.
Kale can't leave the premises because he has an electronic anklet which will go off and bring the police if he does. There's a clever scene in "Disturbia" in which Kale desperately scratches the itch, which the anklet caused. "Disturbia" uses many of Hitch's themes -- voyeurism, paranoia, claustrophrobia, invasion of privacy, isolation, and eyes that misperceive -- but it brings them into the 21st century.
"Disturbia" has cell phone cameras, garage door openers, cable TV porn electronic barriers, Itunes and X-boxes. It is a world of easy access and easy surveillance.
"Disturbia" works so well because it has believable actors, proficient direction, and a smart script. 2007 seems to be the year of the young actor.
26-year-old Joseph Gordon-Levitt was terrific and 20-year-old Shia LaBoef is terrific in "Disturbia."
LaBoef is Every-boy coming into manhood, LaBoef has a semi-dark side. Thank goodness both Gordon-Levitt and LaBoef have avoided cliche-ridden bed hair. So far they both have been their own independent young men. May they prevail.
In "Disturbia," Sarah Roemer fetchingly portrays Ashley, the new girl next door as Kale's well-meaning mom.
As LaBoef excels, he needs an accomplished actor as his adversary. David Morse, as Mr. Turner, may be the best villain since Anthony Hopkins played Hannibal Lector in "The Silence of the Lambs."
Morse's quiet malevolence and sinister serenity are potently chilling.
Director D.J. Caruso in "Disturbia,"
There are a lot of Hitchcockian touches in "Disturbia," but what happens to one of the victims makes no sense.
Where Caruso use of lightning and thunder to try to emphasize the suspense.
The screenplay of "Disturbia" by Christopher Landon and Carl Ellsworth probably will be underrated, but it's savvy, although surprisingly the ending is very ordinary and perfunctory.
In "Disturbia," teenagers are smart. They read!
Kale notes that Ashley reads, "substantial books."
His Asian buddy Ronnie (Aaron Yoo) says, "I read a lot." Kale's speech to Ashley about her character is a moving tribute to intelligence and independence.
The teens are intelligent, and their adversary is clever. The overall intelligence of the movie lifts "Disturbia" up a grade.
"Disturbia" is interesting homage.