Plot: Disturbed … Suburbia … Get it? After a traumatic event, Kale (Shia LaBeouf) becomes withdrawn and eventually hits a teacher, getting three months of house arrest. While stuck at home, Kale begins to daydream about one neighbor and becomes suspicious of another.
Who’s it for: This is mainly for the teenagers, but unlike other teen thrillers, I think this crosses over and adults will enjoy it as well.
Expectations: Zero. I’ll be honest, this was my fifth advance screening in five days. I knew Shia LaBeouf was in the film and that was it. I didn’t know the name or genre of the film … and I think that helped. The first half of the film plays out more like “The Girl Next Door” and it sucked me in so when the scary stuff happened, I was hooked. If you’re lucky, you won’t have seen any previews that are sure to play up the thriller angle of this film.
Shia LaBeouf as Kale: You might not know him, or know how to pronounce his name (Shy-uh), but you will. LaBeouf will be in “Transformers” this summer and all signs point to him joining the “Indiana Jones 4” cast. We need to institute the “Shia Rule,” where he’s always asked first to play the teenager in any film for the next five years. The entire film, I believe he is an ordinary high school kid, which is a rare feat. Most actors you just sit back and watch. But with some, like Shia, you get to feel like you’re on the journey with them.
Carrie-Anne Moss as Julie: It seems like yesterday when Moss was kicking arse along side Neo in the “Matrix” trilogy, so it’s just surprising to see her play the mom. Then again, imdb.com says she’s almost 40.
Talking: There’s a moment where Kale and Ashley (Sarah Roemer) are out on his deck, and he confesses his feelings to her. It borders on over-the-top psychotic adoration, but because of the quality of acting, they are able to pull it off. In fact, it’s exactly the type of thing a kid would say if he’s seen too many romantic comedies.
Sights and Sounds: Just because Kale is trapped in a house, doesn’t mean there isn’t a lot to see. Through his windows he has the whole neighborhood mapped out. Plus, the man knows how to respect his iPod.
Random thoughts: Two words … “Rear Window.” It’s been over 50 years since Alfred Hitchcock’s film starring Jimmy Stewart was released. Many kids who flock to “Disturbia” probably haven’t seen the film and that’s a shame. Stewart plays a wheelchair bound photographer who watches people from his apartment and is convinced one of his neighbors has committed murder. Some might think “Disturbia” has borrowed too much from “Rear Window,” but it’s been long enough, so a decent knock-off like is totally acceptable.
Rewatchability: Compared to all the slasher flicks, this definitely has enough drama and thrills to watch again. If you don’t see this in the theater it is definitely worth renting with the significant other you know gets a little too scared with this type of movie.
Overall: Did you ever have a summer of nothing to do? Well, clearly “Distubria” exaggerates this and has the most interesting neighborhood of all time, but it doesn’t feel too forced. It does the big stuff well, like the inevitable car accident in the beginning. The small stuff is good too, such as Kale wasting away on the couch watching “Cheaters.” “Disturbia” takes it’s time setting up the thrills and Shia LaBeouf actually acts like a high schooler, there is even some good summer romance with Ashley, the girl next door.
Overall Grade: 7