Movie Review #861
A THRILLING MODERNIZATION OF “REAR WINDOW”, “DISTURBIA” FEATURES SHIA LABEOUF AT HIS BEST.
By Red Stewart
|Premiered April 4, 2007 (Hollywood, California)|
|Released April 13, 2007 (nationwide)|
|Drama, Mystery, Thriller|
|Rated PG-13 on appeal (contains disturbing content, violence, mild sexual content)|
“Every killer lives next door to someone.”
It’s a scary, true thought if you think about it. Okay, maybe it’s not entirely accurate since some murderers surely live in an isolated area, but it’s close enough to the truth and serves the purpose of the story well-enough.
“Disturbia” acts as a modernized retelling of the classic Hitchcock thriller “Rear Window”, with some obvious changes. Shia LaBeouf plays troubled teen Kale Brecht, who’s placed under house arrest after assaulting his teacher. With his mom cutting off all electronics, Kale’s cabin fever gets the better of him and he turns to spying on his neighbors. When he catches one, Rob Turner, supposedly committing a murder, a dangerous game of wits emerges between the two.
Movies like “Disturbia” remind us why it’s actually a shame Shia LaBeouf went insane. He is just ridiculously believable as Kale, embodying all the problems and urges teenagers go through in the scenes he spends alone, like parents not understanding, teachers being nosy, middle schoolers running around like punks, the cops always against you, and, of course, acting upon one’s sexual desires in secret. The supporting cast includes both heavy hitters and one time wonders, all of whom are great. David Morse, in particular, is fantastic as Turner, expressing the antithetical qualities of a psychological manipulator whilst still remaining realistic.
“Disturbia” works because it plays its cards one at a time, blending together old school and modern horror tropes in a bubble of suspense. The limited settings hearken back to the days of Hitchcock where the environment was every much a part of the atmosphere as the actions, and the best part is you actually have smart characters that use logic before running headfirst into precarious situations (something severely lacking in horror these days).
Many critics have complained that the finale falls into generic slasher flick territory, but I disagree. To me, this is the climax of all the tension and close calls that have been building up before. A slasher film would jump right into the frenzy for cheap scares, but “Disturbia” ends on a high note of chaos and frightening thrills.
If you’re looking for a “Halloween”-esque film that doesn’t rely on excess amounts of gore to keep you on the edge, than I highly recommend “Disturbia”. Here is a film that lives up to its marketing with its engaging lead, good performances, and an overall sense of mystery/dread.