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Posted August 7, 2007

 

"Disturbia" On DVD

By

Bill Kallay

Shia!  Look out!  Behind you!
 
Shia LaBeouf, once the plucky brother on Disney Channel's "Even Stevens," is now a big movie star in his own right.  He stars in "Disturbia," the teenage version of Alfred Hitchcock's classic thriller, "Rear Window" (1954).  Throw in a little bit of the old tale of "The Boy Who Cried Wolf," and you've got "Disturbia."  You might even think of "Disturbia" as a modern remake of another story, "The Hardy Boys," minus a Hardy Boy.     

I popped the new DVD into my player and expected to be rolling my eyes at the sheer audacity of someone updating Hitchcock's film.  But I'm not one of those die hard fans of the master of suspense.  The Hitch has been ripped off (borrowed from) over the years by many writers and directors, most particularly Steven Spielberg and Brian DePalma.  Admittedly, even after years of film scholars cramming the genius of Hitchcock's genius down my throat, I've found some of his films tedious and at times, overrated.  "Rear Window," though, is one of his best.  So what better plot to borrow from than that film?  "Disturbia" does it, and does it rather well.  I won't say that this is a new teenage movie classic, but it does produce scares and that's what it's expected to do.

LaBeouf plays Kale, a typical teenager who is placed under house arrest after punching out his teacher.  Being stuck in his house with not much to do, he takes to spying on the neighbors.  He spots family turmoil, extramarital affairs, little punk kids who harass him, and a killer who lives next door.  Or is he a killer?
 

Director D.J. Caruso and writers Christopher B. Landon & Carl Ellsworth don't try to break new ground with this thriller.  And I don't believe they need to.  The audience they're aiming for probably knows nothing about Hitchcock, and probably don't care.  All they want to do is see some minor PG-13 violence, get some of the stuffing scared out of them, and maybe get a thrill over the light sensuality in the film.
 

The film's mood is sinister, though I didn't feel super threatened.  Rogier Stoffers' cinematography has a lot of darkness.  As with a lot of suspense films, you ask yourself, "Will somebody jump out at you?"  You know something's going to scare you, and you anticipate it a lot through the film.
 

The film belongs to LaBeouf, who has proven to be a good actor in the past.  As Louis Stevens on "Even Stevens," he was intense and comedic at the same time.  In this movie, he plays a teenager with lots of angst.  What made me laugh was Kale's ingenuity of making his house arrest more interesting by setting up a perimeter around his yard.  If he passed the perimeter, his ankle bracelet would only allow him ten seconds to get back to his front yard.  LaBeouf, in most of the roles I've seen him in, puts himself into his performances.
 

The cast is credible, with Carrie-Anne Moss, Sarah Roemer, David Morse and Aaron Yoo supporting LaBeouf's teenage sleuthing.  Since the storyline seemed so familiar and played before in so many other films, the cast works well with the material at hand.
 

Bonus features include commentary by the director, LaBeouf and Roemer, deleted scenes, a making-of documentary, "Serial Pursuit" trivia pop-up quiz, outtakes, a music video and photo gallery.
 

If there was a complaint about the film, besides the obvious Hitchcockian riffs, was that the movie holds back.  How?  It could have done better with an "R" rating.  I'm no horror fan, and lots of senseless gore turns me off.  But "Disturbia" seemed like it cut corners to get a "PG-13" rating.
 

This isn't a film to take too seriously.  It's a light horror/suspense movie that would be perfect for a slumber party.

"Oh my god!
  He's got a knife!"

DISTURBIA CLIPS
here
 
Disturbia
DreamWorks Home Entertainment
Catalog Number 34834
Region 1
1.85:1
Dolby Digital 5.1

DVD Release Date: August 7, 2007
$29.99
PG-13
2007
104 minutes
Color
Director: D.J. Caruso
Cast: Shia LaBeouf,
Carrie-Anne Moss, Sarah Roemer, David Morse and Aaron Yoo
 


 

Special thanks to Mac & Dinah McLean

 

IMAGES: DreamWorks and Paramount Pictures.  All rights reserved.

 

 

 

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