Most people that watch movies today skew younger. So most of them will not have seen nor heard of the classic Rear Window. That works for Disturbia, which takes the central story of the movie, makes the protagonist much younger, and updates the story. Instead of being trapped in a wheelchair, Kale (Shia LaBeouf, Bobby, A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints) is stuck at home with a monitor on his ankle that alerts police if he is more than 100 feet away from his house. Disturbia is very predictable, but surprisingly suspenseful, primarily due to the good decision to use suspense instead of blood and gore.
The worst decision that director D.J. Caruso (Two for the Money, Taking Lives) and screenwriters Christopher B. Landon (Boys Life 3, Another Day in Paradise) and Carl Ellsworth (Red Eye) is to try to redeem Kale. Kale is acting out because his father died a year ago. An extended prologue shows what happened, then flashes forward to Kale punching a teacher for making a comment alluding to his father's death. House arrest it is. Worse, the cousin of the teacher is a cop, who seems to enjoy annoying Kale. Wouldn't he know that there are some extenuating circumstances? His vendetta seems a bit strong for one punch. Still, Caruso manages to work in the death of Kale's father later into the story, but it is still fairly unnecessary. Kale doesn't have to be a good guy in the beginning.
Disturbia starts slowly, showing the boredom that Kale experiences. After his mom (Carrie-Anne Moss, The Chumscrubber, Suspect Zero) takes away his television and other privileges, Kale finds he has nothing left to do except look out the window and observe his neighbors. Primarily Ashley (Sarah Roemer, The Grudge 2), the attractive new neighbor that happens to lounge around in a small bikini for much of the day. Kale's friend Ronnie (Aaron Yoo) joins in the fun. Eventually, Ashley sees them spying on her. She's intrigued with the weird kid who cannot leave his house, and goes over as a way of pissing off her parents.
All of this takes quiet a while, and the purpose is to put the audience at ease. In the background noise are newscasts about missing women, but people not paying attention will miss it. Now, with all three teenagers in the Kale household, the story kicks into gear. Kale notices his neighbor Mr. Turner (David Morse, Dreamer: Inspired by a True Story, Nearing Grace). The biggest asset in Disturbia is Morse, who looks creepy in nearly everything he does. He has a hulking presence and a fantastic death gaze. Kale notices that Turner seems to do some weird things, and that his dented blue Mustang matches the description of a car in a kidnapping. Trapped in his house, Kale can do little but observe, and his imagination goes crazy. He catches glimpses of Turner doing incriminating things, but has no real proof except for his assumptions. Is Turner a cold-blooded murderer, or does Kale have an overactive imagination? The answer is pretty obvious, but it's a fun ride to the end.
|Haro Rates It: Not Bad.
|1 hour, 44 minutes, Rated PG-13 for sequences of terror and violence, and some sensuality.
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