RELEASE DATE: APRIL 13
Director: D.J. Caruso
Writer: Christopher B. Landon, Carl Ellsworth
Cinematography: Rogier Stoffers
Starring: Shia LaBeouf, Sarah Roemer, Carrie-Anne Moss, David Morse, Aaron Yoo
Studio/Running Time: Dreamworks, 104 mins.
Being compared to Rear Window, one of Alfred Hitchcock’s greatest films, is not a bad thing. It’s been 50 years since the Oscar-nominated thriller had nosy neighbors everywhere purchasing binoculars to get a better look at the goings-on next door. In a business known for ripping off last year’s blockbusters, a little homage to this classic is overdue. In Disturbia, James Stewart’s character is replaced by Kale (Shia LaBeouf), a teenager under house arrest for decking his high school Spanish teacher — a justified reaction, considering the provocative and insensitive remark the educator makes about Kale’s father’s recent and fatal car accident (shockingly played out in the film’s opening).
Wearing a Martha Stewart style ankle bracelet, Kale works to alleviate his boredom by watching the neighbors, especially Ashley (Sarah Roemer), the attractive peer who just moved in next door and has a proclivity for revealing herself through her bedroom window and during afternoon swims in the pool. But soon his attention is drawn to another neighbor (David Morse) whose behavior fits the description of a suspected murderer. Ashley joins in with Kale and his buddy Ronnie (Aaron Yoo) as the three clumsily begin an investigation into their neighbor’s behavior.
This film is aimed at a teenage demographic, but there are just enough suspense-filled surprises and solid performances to attract the grownups, too. Making his move from longtime child actor to lead actor, LaBeouf, who turns 21 this year, especially proves his mettle. Along with director D.J. Caruso’s deft touch at pushing all the right thrill buttons, some may even overlook a few predictable moments and inexcusable technical gaffes (a boom microphone repeatedly creeps into scenes). As homages go, Disturbia does Hitchcock proud.