Call this the little movie that could. No one expected much of Disturbia when it was released to theatres earlier this year. Yet, somehow, it amassed roughly $80 million dollars and kept near the top of the box-office charts, only to be dethroned by Spider-Man 3. An update of the classic movie Rear Window,
After his father’s accidental death, Kale (Shia LaBeouf) remains withdrawn and troubled. When he lashes out at a well-intentioned but insensitive teacher, he finds himself under a court-ordered house arrest. His mother continues to cope, working extra shifts to support herself and her son, as she tries in vain to understand the changes in his personality. The walls of his house begin to close in on Kale as he takes chances to extend the boundaries both physical and emotional – of his confinement. His interests turn outside the windows of his suburban home toward those of his neighbors, including a mutual attraction to the new girl next door (Sarah Roemer). Together, they begin to suspect that another neighbor is a serial killer. Are their suspicions merely the product of Kale’s cabin fever and vivid imagination? Or have they unwittingly stumbled across a crime that could cost them their lives?
It’s bizarre how this movie evokes a very John Hughes-esque charm as it unfolds. Constrained to his home, we see Kale deal with bratty kids, neighbors who don’t believe in modesty, and raging hormones. Kale even has the usual horny best friend. It’s weird, knowing that eventually Kale will be facing off against a serial killer, but it works. In fact, it really plants the movie in reality, allowing us to swallow the fact that his neighbor is a little bit psycho (so much so that he even dresses up as one of his victims to fool any onlookers).
Now, what I’m saying is no surprise. Very early on, the movie make it’s abundantly clear that on of Kale’s neighbors is a killer. He catches on to Kale’s surveillance pretty fast, making for a couple interesting (and tense) confrontations. Now, what the movie does, which is sorta cool, is throws us off the tracks. We even begin doubting ourselves, which is standard for a movie such as this. But as the evidence stacks up against Kale, that perhaps his neighbor, played by the great David Morse, is just a quiet guy, we begin to wonder . . . what if? Of course, all that is sort of wiped away when we see blood splash across a window in his house. Once again, we begin to doubt even that . . . and then Kale watches his neighbor terrorize a house guest . . . and then we begin to doubt that. It goes back and forth, and then completely disappears from the movie for a little bit until Kale sends his buddy in to get a look around. That’s when the third acts kicks off and goes into standard slasher mode. Still the third act had me biting my nails in suspense.
I want to make note of the acting which is great across the board, save for LaBeouf’s love interest. She comes off as somewhat erratic, and then completely disappears during the finale. Morse is great as Kale’s creepy, possibly psycho neighbor and Carrie-Anne Moss is just pitch-perfect as Kale’s mother. It was a real treat to see her again, and I hope to see her back on the big screen again soon. LaBeouf is, of course, solid in the movie. Very likeable and charming, even when he’s being a complete jerk.
So how does the DVD stack up? Pretty well, actually. There’s a nice collection of deleted scenes, a commentary, some featurettes, bloopers, a music video, a photo gallery, the theatrical trailer, and a bunch of other trailers. It’s a pretty standard Paramount release which, of course, is pretty rock solid. Most of their releases have a nice abundance of extras and this is no different. Paramount seems to be one of the few studios that can deliver consistent releases without falling into the double-dip trap too much. While they have done a fair amount of double-dipping this past year, they seem to hold the best record as far as I can tell. Still, with LaBeouf’s Transformers coming to DVD this holiday season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see another Disturbia release, though the package here is pretty rock-solid . . . I can’t see there being much else to say in terms of how the movie was made.
Disturbia is a fun, if predictable movie. If you’ve seen the commercials (or hell, the DVD menu itself), you know exactly where this film is heading. I have to admit, regardless of that, I was still on the edge of my seat. So, I’ll have to Recommend this film, at least for a rental. It’s a fun movie with a nice, laid back pace, and slowly builds to a tense finale. Sure, it’s predictable and everything, but given the strong lead character and pretty cool supporting cast, it’s worth checking out. It’s not memorable, but it delivers. And hey, maybe it’ll cause you to look twice at your neighbors. Welcome to Disturbia, folks.
Disturbia is now available on DVD, HD-DVD, and Blu-Ray.