Disturbia


Directed by: D.J. Caruso
Written by:Christopher Landon, Carl Ellsworth
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Sarah Roemer, Carrie-Anne Moss, David Morse, Aaron Yoo, Jose Pablo Cantillo
Released: April 12, 2007
Grade: B-

Have you seen Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window?  If so, the following plot device will sound very familiar.

One year ago, Kale (LaBeouf) and his father were involved in a car accident on the way home from a fishing trip.  Kale survived but his father did not.  The resulting trauma saw his grades slip at school and culminated with Kale punching a teacher in the face.  The assault saw him appear before a judge.  Despite his previous convictions (which aren’t detailed), Kale gets off lightly.  He is sentenced to three months of home detention.

Kale cannot leave his house during this time.  To make sure that is the case, an electronic device is locked to his ankle.  If he strays more than 100 feet from the kitchen (where the central transponder is located), it will set off an alarm and the police will be on the way.  The time at home won’t be as easy as Kale first thinks.  Spending every minute at home can be very, very boring.

After an overly long introduction (which sets up the above premise), the film enters its “thriller” phase.  Kale starts using binoculars to spy on the neighbouring houses.  At first, his attention is drawn to the cute girl next door (Roemer) but it soon changes to the strange man in the next house over.  His name is Mr. Turner (Morse).

Having spent so much time watching television, Kale knows that police are looking for leads in the case of a missing woman.  The car she was last seen in matches the car that appears in Mr. Turner’s garage.  There’s also a small dent in the front left corner of the car – just as the police described.  Is Mr. Turner the kidnapper?  Kale sets up his video camera, uses his binoculars and spends almost every moment looking through the windows of Mr. Turner’s house.  Can he find a clue?

I didn’t mind the film in places but Disturbia didn’t create the thrills I was expecting.  Why?  Because I never believed it.  Some scenes left me shaking my head.  The characters do not behave like normal people and the events do not unfold like they would in real life.  It makes you appreciate how good Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window was.

I won’t elaborate too much for fear of ruining the ending but here are a few examples.  There’s one scene where Kale gets his hands on both the current and original plans of Mr. Turner’s house.  How is this possible?  There’s another scene where Kaleb spots something incredibly miniscule on his video camera.  How did he do this?  I know “it’s just a movie” but I’m still annoyed.

Now speaking positively, I enjoyed Shia LaBoeuf (Holes) in the leading role.  He came across as a regular, normal teenager – not the kind of stereotypical teenagers we see in so many movies.  I don’t know if that makes sense but there’s something about his mannerisms and the way he speaks which makes him look like he’s not even acting.  There is talk that LaBoeuf will be cast as Harrison Ford’s son in the new Indiana Jones movie.  I hope he does as it’d be a great break-out role.

Let me finish up by saying that I saw this film at an advance screening with almost no prior knowledge of the storyline.  For this reason, I had no idea where the film would head and how it would end.  Having seen the trailer subsequently, I am horrified by how much of the story it gives away.  I say this every few months but if you’re going to create a thriller, what’s the bloody point of revealing the plot twists beforehand?  If you’re thinking about seeing Disturbia, I strongly urge that you don’t download the trailer first.