a critiQal film review Disturbia (2007)

  • DVD
  • Blu-Ray

Plot: Still troubled over the death of his father a year ago, Kale (LaBeouf) gets into a fight at school - and finds himself under house arrest for 90 days. Bored, he starts spying on the people in his idyllic little town. Soon, however, his boredom turns to fear as he begins to suspect one of his neighbors (Morse) of being an elusive serial killer.

633 words (Est. Reading Time 3m 9s)

I had seen previews for Disturbia back when it was in theaters, but it didn’t look like it was a must-see. It did have Shia LaBeouf in it, who I’d become a fan of after his roles in and , but it looked a lot like that old flick Rear Window, and didn’t look to have anything new to add to the thriller genre. Still, I went ahead and added it to my queue at Blockbuster®, thinking I’d watch it eventually.

Recently, I was updating that queue and was looking for something in the thriller genre. Not in the mood for the all-out gore a horror film like or would bring, I settled for moving Disturbia up the list. Once I received it, I sat down to check it out, not expecting much.

Shia LaBeouf, hot in the movie business now thanks to his role in summer blockbuster does a good job of getting audiences to relate to his characters. Whether those characters are dealing with fantastical robots or simply a troubled youth on house arrest, he manages to connect with his audience, and really gives that audience a feel for his character.

Instead of presenting his character, Kale, as just another troubled teen, Shia shows viewers how his character’s inability to deal with his father’s death has shaped him – and also his reluctance to meet new people now that he has faced the death of a loved one. He brings a brash and cocky attitude to the role, yet manages to show the insecure young man underneath. Watching him take the first awkward steps towards letting the new girl next door into his life is both laugh-out-loud funny and sweetly poignant at the same time.

David Morse, looking very much older and more grizzled than when viewers last saw him (which was when?), basically phones in most of his appearance as the suspected neighborhood killer. His only real shining moment comes when he interacts with Shia’s character in the kitchen, with their seemingly polite conversation mixed with darker undertones of fear and warning.

Sarah Roemer, as the new girl next door, does a good job of connecting with Shia, and the two have a good on-screen chemistry. Still, viewers expect that’s more Shia’s doing than Sarah’s, as her scenes without Shia aren’t as impressive. Carrie-Anne Moss, who kick-started her post-Matrix career with the dark comedy zombie film , returns to the screen again in Disturbia – and is largely under-used as Kale’s mother.

The plot was decent enough, if a little bit on the tried-and-true side of things. As the film progresses, director DJ Caruso does a good job of fleshing out Kale’s growing suspicions concerning his next-door neighbor, as well as the budding spark of romance between Kale and the new girl next door. As things begin to reach what seems to be the halfway point, however, Caruso tosses viewers into the finale for a final battle that is so unoriginal it’s a bit sad.

While Shia again shows why he’s a hot property in Hollywood these days, Disturbia isn’t as impressive as it could have been. While the setup of the movie is very well done, the developmental section of the film seems to have mostly been left on the cutting room floor as the viewer, having just got into what they believe is the center of the film, is immediately thrust into a finale that leaves a lot to be desired.

If the director had spent as much time on building the second part of the film (including the finale) as much as he obviously did on the first, Disturbia would have been a much better film. Still, the characters and the first half of the film make this one better than the average thriller – and worth a peek.

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