I caught Paramount’s Disturbia last week, and for all those huffing and puffing about its similarities to Rear Window, you can rest easy: despite some good-ish performances, the movie marginally fails on its own terms, as a thriller.
Shia LaBeouf stars as Kale, a decent but wayward kid who gets sentenced to house arrest for punching out his Spanish teacher. (Why he does that is another story…) Bored out of his mind after his mother (Carrie-Anne Moss) snips the cord on his television and otherwise severs his connections to outside entertainment, Kale takes to scoping out the rituals of his neighbors, including new girl next door Ashley (Sarah Roemer, of The Grudge 2). Soon Kale comes to believe that another neighbor, Robert Turner (David Morse), is responsible for the disappearance of several young women. With Ashley and friend Ronnie (Aaron Yoo) as his lifelines to the outside world, Kale investigates, and confirms that Turner has dark secrets worth hiding.
I was a fan of director DJ Caruso’s The Salton Sea and, to a much lesser extent, Taking Lives, and he’s got an undeniably solid visual style. The problem here, though, is a sense of space, and all the technology deployed in surveillance, which is never really clearly laid out. LaBoeuf gives Disturbia its own chatterbox personality, and there’s some interest to be found in the manner in which the movie charts Kale’s path of initial insouciance to a more proactive nature. But the big problem is the script, by Christopher Landon and Carl Ellsworth (Red Eye). There are gaping holes in motivation and behavior — even adjusting for the necessity of personalizing the conflict — and by the second act it becomes apparent that the movie and its makers don’t have anything interesting to say, with the finale tipping over into siege film shenanigans. Disturbia releases wide on April 13. For more information, click here.