What would you do if you knew a killer lived next door? The police don’t trust you and you’re on a monitored probation so you can’t even leave your house. Disturbia is an intriguing modern take on an old classic.
Disturbia is part remake, part homage to the Alfred Hitchcock classic Rear Window. Unlike other less successful remakes such as the ill-fated Psycho remake starring Anne Heche; Disturbia updates and changes enough to be interesting without changing the vital structure that made the original work so well.
Kale (Shia LeBeouf) has just done what many teenagers dream of; punch out that one teacher who gets on your nerves.
And he’s down!
Now he has to live with the consequences. Specifically an arrest and mugshot for misdemeanor assault and battery. This could turn into a more serious charge if he violates the terms of his probation. 3 months house arrest with an ankle monitor that limits him to his house and part of the yard. If Kale goes beyond the boundaries, he has a few seconds to get back to home base before the electronic Judas on his ankle sends the police after him.
Turn green, turn green, turn green!
Even worse, Officer Gutierrez, the cop on patrol in the area, is the cousin of the teacher he punched out.
Mr. Gutierrez’s cousin, Officer Gutierrez
Kale’s long suffering mom (Carrie-Anne Moss) confiscates Kale’s TV, cancels the cable, his iTunes account and internet in an attempt to get him to shape up. With nothing else to do, Kale does what any bored, frustrated teenager would do in his situation. Break out the old spyglasses and watch the neighbors. Two things catch his eye immediately, the cute girl who just moved in on one side of his house and the creepy guy who lives on the other side.
It’s like reality TV, except real!
He is joined by best friend Ronnie and before mentioned next door neighbor, Ashley after his cover is blown. The three of them are increasingly drawn into the life of the mysterious neighbor Mr. Turner. Things immediately take a turn for the suspenseful when a local party girl seen at Turner’s house goes missing and Mr. Turner begins to realize he is being watched.
The mysterious Mr. Turner
All of this culminates in a deadly cat and mouse game that will endanger Kale’s friends, neighbors and family.
I’m not a serial killer, honest.
I came into this review primed to dislike the film. I am a committed (ha) fan of Alfred Hitchcock’s films and of the suspense genre in general. So any new film, especially an obvious remake, is going to have to meet a pretty high bar.
Much to my surprise, this film actually makes It over the bar rather nicely. While there is some teenage stupidity, it’s actually minimal and realistically played out. The characters behave exactly the way you would expect bored, alienated teenagers to.
Kale is a seething ball of anger and self-loathing with a host of emotional issues tied to a tragic accident.
Kale, a few underlying anger issues.
Ashley is the new girl trying to fit in.
Ashley, the new neighbor.
Ronnie is a classic computer geek with a few social issues of his own.
Ronnie, he’s not all there sometimes.
One of the side-plots ends up in a hilarious scene with Kale blasting Minnie Riperton songs through the neighborhood, much to the annoyance of Ashley and her friends.
Hope you like Minnie! Loooving you, is easy cause….
Mr. Turner (David Morse) is a well-played enigma through most of the movie. Is he or isn’t he a killer is up in the air for a good part of the film.
The cinematography is well done, with rich colors in the outdoor scenes and effective indoor shooting giving a growing sense of claustrophobia as Kale’s sentence and the plot roll on. The film runs at a fairly brisk 1hr 45 minutes, with few wasted scenes and tight editing. The final scenes unleashing the built up suspense in a nicely paced action scene.
Verdict: 3.5 gavels out of 5
Above average suspense thriller, worth your time. Especially if your taste runs towards Hitch’s alley. Bonus, Shia LeBoeuf is actually not that annoying in this film. Tightly paced editing and strong supporting cast, with an above average performance from Mr. Transformers himself.