Monday, 28 September 2020
Written by Sandra Fitzpatrick   
Tuesday, 17 April 2007 00:00
We live in an age where voyeurism is so common it hardly gets labeled for what it is anymore. The popularity of video posting sites such as YouTube make it easy to get a glimpse into the lives of others, and there’s websites where every variety of Peeping Tom to get his pulse pounding. Voyeurism can run the gamut from Internet videos or blogs, to something as simple as peering from behind the curtain as your hot neighbor washes the car. The new thriller Disturbia looks at the sinister connotations of indulging in a little neighborhood watch.

Kale (Shia LaBeouf) is a smart and smart-alecky teenager who has a run-in with the law when his temper gets the best of him. He smucks his condescending Spanish teacher upside the head (a well deserved blow if you ask me) and is placed under house arrest for three months. He figures, like most kids would, that it will be a free ride to video games and web surfing all summer. But within a couple of days he’s already going stir-crazy, especially when he realizes he has a sexy new neighbor named Ashley (Sarah Roemer) who seems to enjoy posing by the pool for no reason. He begins spying on her (guys – NOT the best way to impress a girl in real life) and then realizes that the rest of his neighbors are pretty good entertainment too, dubbing it “reality without the TV”.

Of course things turn all Twilight Zone when Kale and his friends start spying on a neighbor whose female houseguests never seem to leave. Morbid curiosity leads them to believe he may be a serial killer and they end up in way over their heads. Adding to the tension is the fact that Kale is strapped with an ankle bracelet that will notify the police if he leaves his own yard. And a young offender isn’t likely to get much sympathy when he starts prattling on about chopped up bodies in his neighbor’s garage.

Disturbia is a surprisingly entertaining movie. Although predictable, what it lacks in plot twists it more than makes up for with style and surprisingly good actors. Director D.J. Caruso, probably best known for The Salton Sea, elevates Disturbia above typical teen flick fare. He wisely sets the focus squarely on the young star and lets him take over in front of the cameras. Shia LaBeouf is a surprisingly charismatic lead whose expressive face and competent acting allow him to steal the show. He holds his own opposite veterans David Morse and Carrie-Anne Moss, so I’m really looking forward to seeing what he’ll do in the future.

Comparisons with the Hitchcock film Rear Window are making people come down hard on this movie. Of course it’s no masterpiece, but I wouldn’t call it a remake either. Disturbia has its own merits, and what it has to offer is simply a fun ride from point A to point B. I give it 6 out of 10  stars.