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The best of Hitchcock is a good place to start
Shia LaBeouf and Carrie-Anne Moss Star in "Disturbia".
OPENING WEEKEND: $10,000,000
DOMESTIC TOTAL: $39,000,000
OTHER PREVIEWS: Alatriste (7/10)
  This Film is NOT a Future Release.
  The Following Preview has been Archived.

January 15th, 2007: After a tragic accident leaves high school senior Kale Brecht (Shia LaBeouf) fatherless, the boy begins to act out. A serious outburst of anger in school leads to his expulsion and a court-ordered house arrest. To ensure that he doesn’t stray too far from the walls of his home, Kale is given an ankle bracelet that monitors his movement. His mother Julie (Carrie-Anne Moss) does her best to support the two of them and attempts to reach out to her confused son, with little success. Bored, Kale turns to his binoculars and video camera to explore a new hobby: voyeurism. With the help of his best friend Ronnie (Aaron Yoo), Kale begins spying on his neighbors. He soon meets the attractive new girl-next-door Ashley (Sarah Roemer), who joins in on the fun. When Kale hears reports of mysterious abductions in the neighborhood, he begins to suspect his strange neighbor Turner (David Morse). Further surveillance and even obsession with his subject, transform Kale’s moderate suspicions into outright fear and panic. He becomes convinced that Turner is a murderer. Unfortunately, he is stuck at home and without any evidence to aid him, even his mother fails to believe him. With modern technology at his disposal and his friends Ronnie and Ashley willing to help out, Kale begins to search for evidence that will incriminate Turner, all without leaving his front yard.

What to Expect: The film’s title is a play on the word suburbia and within the context of the story, it is the name that the main characters have given their strange little neighborhood. Besides the title, however, Disturbia has two things going for it: a compelling idea and a fun cast to execute it. Let’s begin with the premise, which is hardly original, but promising nonetheless. While it bears resemblance to the Tom Hanks flick The Burbs, where a bizarre family arouses the suspicion of the entire neighborhood with their behavior, and it is also quite similar to Fright Night, in which a teenager has difficulty convincing anyone that his neighbor is a vampire, Disturbia is drawing inspiration from a different source. Quite consciously, the filmmakers are adapting the majority of the story from Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Rear Window, which is probably the legendary director’s quintessential film in terms of the suspense he was able to generate through all of his trickery. In Hitchcock’s film, a photographer, played by Jimmy Stewart, is forced to stay home after breaking his leg. With free time on his hands, he utilizes his professional equipment to observe the neighborhood. Before we are even a half an hour into the story, he has already developed an unhealthy obsession with his neighbor across the yard, whom he suspects of having committed murder. In Disturbia, the protagonist’s leg cast is replaced by the much more high-tech ankle bracelet and the old-school camera is replaced with a digital video camera. Normally, I would complain that Disturbia is going to ruin the original’s vision with dumbed-down action, but since Hitchcock’s mastery over the material couldn’t possibly be equaled in a remake, I actually hope that the filmmakers approach the subject with a slightly more action-driven, cheap-thrill, modern-day update. I’m thinking of something along the lines of John Dahl’s Joy Ride, which balanced suspense, terror, action, and humor into one entertaining flick. Being a huge Hitchcock fan, I would love to see the movie pay homage to Rear Window and I sense that may be the case since the filmmakers have freely admitted to using it as their foundation.

Article continues below

By picking a hot young star and surrounding him with competent veteran actors, the filmmakers have made another wise choice. For Shia LeBeouf (Holes, Constantine, Bobby), who was so tremendous and exuded that natural charm and star presence in The Greatest Game Ever Played and A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints, this is the type of low-key project that will allow him to shine at the center. It will be interesting to see him act out as a rebellious teen as opposed to the nice guy types he normally takes on. Some say that this role should be a great lead-in to his part in the blockbuster Transformers, but personally I am a lot more interested to see what he will do here. Transformers should finally give him a taste of absolute stardom, but Disturbia will allow him to expand his range.

The veteran actors I speak of are David Morse (Proof of Life, 16 Blocks) and Carrie-Anne Moss (The Matrix, Memento). Without a doubt, Morse is an excellent choice for the villain as illustrated by his performances in flicks like Twelve Monkeys or The Negotiator. He is quiet, intimidating, and menacing even when he smiles. He even brings the same physical stature and silver hair that Raymond Burr had when he played the villain in Hitchcock’s classic. While Moss doesn’t have the most interesting role on paper, her character’s troubling relationship with the suspect should generate plenty of suspense, especially when LeBeouf’s Kale sees her across the yard. Finally, Sarah Roemer, who plays Ashley, will have the Grace Kelly role in the movie. She’ll be Kale’s love interest and confidant throughout the ordeal.

The screenplay was originally written by Christopher B. Landon and later re-written by Carl Ellsworth, who penned the fast-paced flick Red Eye, which, for at least the first two-thirds of its running time, was an immensely suspenseful and engaging thriller. In addition to his directing work for the gritty, critically acclaimed television drama “The Shield,” D.J. Caruso’s last feature, Two for the Money, was an equally immersing ride filled with great performances by Al Pacino and Matthew McConaughey. Between Ellsworth and Caruso there is tremendous potential that Disturbia will become a quality popcorn thriller. So far, test audiences have liked it. The ending has been re-written and later re-shot after executives were unhappy with some of the results, but overall impressions seem to be quite positive. For its graphic violence, the movie has earned an R rating, but the producers are currently appealing the decision by the MPAA. Personally, I would prefer if they wouldn’t sweat the rating and would instead concentrate on making the experience as intense as possible.

In Conclusion: I love Rear Window and for some reason I don’t mind that it is being bastardized a little bit here. I’m actually quite eager to see a re-telling with a modern twist and view it as a golden opportunity for a sleeper hit in the spring. Amid all the other teeny-bopper slasher flicks, Disturbia should stick out quite nicely and may be the type of movie that garners attention through word-of-mouth between fans. Hitchcock’s original is so brilliant in its premise that even a mediocre remake should offer up plenty of fun. I would prefer to see the master at work again, but I’m looking forward to seeing how much punch these young guns can bring.

Similar Titles: Joy Ride, Fright Night, Cape Fear
April 13th, 2007 (wide)
August 7th, 2007 (DVD)


D.J. Caruso

Shia LaBeouf, Carrie-Anne Moss, David Morse, Sarah Roemer, Kurt David Anderson, Elyse Mirto, Matt Craven, Aaron Yoo

Total: 208 vote(s).


Click here to view site

Rated PG-13 for sequences of terror and violence, and some sensuality

104 min





Disturbia at RottenTomatoes.com

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