Director: D.J. Caruso
Cast: Shia LaBeouf, David Morse, Sarah Roemer, Aaron Yoo, Carrie-Anne Moss
For the record, I haven't watched Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window, which this film is supposedly based on. Most people would say that Rear Window is better, after all who can beat Hitchcock? But this film, updated for this generation and custom made for the teen crowd, is more than decent.
The protagonist in Disturbia is a young man named Kale Brecht, who hasn't quite been the same ever since he watched his father die in a car crash. His pent up depression causes him to attack his Spanish teacher in class at the mere mention of his dad, and the law reacts by placing him under house arrest. He gets to wear an electronic anklet that alerts the police if he tries to go beyond his lawn.
Stuck at home, he turns to the internet and video games for solace, until his mum cuts him off. Yeah, party pooper. Which leaves him with one option: watching the neighbours. He discovers how fascinating it is to spy on their daily activities and coerces his best friend, Ronald to come over and join in. Then he meets the new girl next door, Ashley. She catches Kale and Ronald spying on her and decides to join their little activity.
The three of them focus their attention on their strange neighbour, Robert Turner, who seems to fit the description of a serial killer at large. When Kale witnesses a woman being attacked in Turner's house, he is determined to get to the bottom of things, and ropes in his friends to help. But he may have bitten off more than he can chew, as Turner turns out to be a crafty person that knows how to stay one step ahead of him.
Director D.J. Caruso deserves praise for one thing: taking his time to unravel his work. I think most teen films would just get straight to the point, or worse, do unrelated things and miss the point altogether. But Caruso makes it worthwhile by spending time showing Kale struggle with not being able to leave his house, and of course, the love angle between Kale and Ashley. What's a teen film without that, eh? But when the thrills start, they come at breakneck speed, and I am glad to note that it was done solidly.
LaBeouf once again charms his way through yet another film, just like he did with Transformers. He's just natural and perfect for playing Kale. Morse once again plays a villain in Turner, and it's hard not to be chilled by the silent, cold exterior he always uses in his roles. Though I must say, watching him on House is a pain in the ass, not because he's good at playing bad, but because he's too deadpan.
Perhaps the only thing that's missing in Disturbia, despite the fact that it was well made, is a genuine surprise. It's pretty straightforward, you won't have any problems understanding this film. This isn't as entertaining as Saw or Identity. But it has enough heart stopping moments to keep you on the edge of your seat till the end.
Solid entertainment, nothing less than that. (4/5)