WEB EXCLUSIVE: Slightly Disturbed by ‘Disturbia’

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The new DreamWorks thriller ‘Disturbia’ comes just in time for the upcoming summer saturation of teen scary movies. If you’re a fan of the by-the-book scripted thriller, filled with flirtatious PG sex scenes and a few funny one-liners to cut the tension, ‘Disturbia’ is a must-see.
ASUCI presented a preview screening of ‘Disturbia’ on Tuesday April 10.
‘Disturbia’ centers around a 17-year old typical teenager Kale (Shia LaBeouf), who is under house arrest for punching his Spanish teacher. Kale lives with his mother, played by Carrie Ann Moss, in a house situated in what is decidedly the most suburban looking neighborhood in the country.
Kale mopes around his house with his ankle bracelet, eating junk food, playing video games and destroying the house. Bored out of his mind, he decides to spy on some of his friendly neighbors. One neighbor in particular catches his eye; the girl next door played by Kristin Cavalieri look-alike, Sarah Roemer. Ashley’s pool is conveniently located directly under Kale’s window, giving him a clear view of her daily trips to her pool in a skimpy bikini.
Kale’s funny friend Ronnie, played by Aaron Yoo, visits Kale at home to help him get through his three months of house arrest.
The film finally gets interesting when Kale begins to suspect that his neighbor Mr. Turner, played by David Morse, is a serial killer. Soon, Kale turns his voyeuristic suspicions into a reality when he convinces Ronnie and Ashley that Mr. Turner is the serial killer that was talked about on the news.
The film’s similarity to Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Rear Window’ (1954) cannot be ignored. The plot follows the same formula in which James Stewart’s character Jeff, who is confined to a wheel chair in his home after an accident, begins to suspect that his neighbor has killed his wife. Although the films are undeniably similar, writer Carl Ellsworth, whose film credits include the jet-plane thriller ‘Red Eye,’ finds a way to make some significant, yet minor changes to the modern film.
Although the film is entertaining, there are a few lapses in the plot’s logic. For one thing, Kale mysteriously owns a few thousand dollars worth of surveillance equipment with which he can spy on his neighbor. Characters in the film also seem to show up on screen coincidentally at just the right moment throughout the film.
Not only does the cheesy, dramatic music ruin surprises in the film, the film’s marketing slogan does as well: ‘Even killers have to live next door to someone.’ Thus, the slogan makes the film’s plot particularly predictable.
Despite the lack of surprise, LaBeouf’s completely holds his own. I guess you could say he has come a long way from playing the annoying little brother on Disney’s ‘Even Stevens.’ He is capable of carrying the film, delivering a believable performance as the likeable Kale. His comedic timing is on point as well as is his performance in the few dramatic scenes.
David Morse also gives a great performance as the film’s creepy villain; just looking at the guy is a little unnerving.
I was a little disappointed by Carrie Ann Moss in the film. After seeing her in other work like ‘Memento’ and ‘The Matrix,’ I was expecting a little more from her character.
Director D.J. Caruso might have a spring/summer hit on his hands. After his last blockbuster bummers ‘Taking Lives’ (2004) and ‘Two For the Money’ (2005), Caruso proves with ‘Disturbia’ that he can appeal to a teenager’s need for eye candy and fast entertainment.
Despite the lack of depth in the plot, the movie is scary and worth watching if you’re a scary movie fan.
Rating: 3/5

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