Disturbia movie poster
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Disturbia movie poster

Disturbia Movie Review

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Disturbia stunned box office analysts over the weekend by taking in nearly double what most had predicted, a whopping $23 million on an otherwise quiet (yet crowded) weekend. A teen thriller that tries hard not to be a teen thriller, Disturbia offers Rear Window-style suspense, a scorching hot love interest and up-and-coming star Shia LaBeouf.

The movie takes place in your ordinary suburban home, except that in one corner you have the fantastically beautiful Sarah Roemer, and in the other the extremely homicidal David Morse. After punching a teacher, Kale (LaBeouf) is sentenced to three months house arrest and quickly becomes stir crazy. His interest in making Twinkie towers soon turns to voyeurism, as he takes to spying on his neighbors, the most notable of which being his new next door neighbor, Ashley. He soon bonds with her and, along with his friend Ronnie (Aaron Yoo), begins to focus his attention on one specific neighbor who he has the lingering feeling is up to know good. As it turns out, he may be right, and soon begins to suspect that this man is indeed a serial killer, but as he is the felon, the police immediately doubt his story and he has no other evidence to back things up. Will he discover the truth, and will he end up dead in the process?

Of course, the answer to that question is quite obvious: yes, and no. I could be vague as to whether Morse plays a killer, but we all know that he does, so why lie about it? Disturbia is, as you might imagine, fairly formulaic and a rip-off of classic Rear Window, but, then again, formulaic thrillers work when done right. Director D.J. Caruso has done a fine job to make a relatively tense and at the very least entertaining thriller. The movie flows well and when there isn't suspense, there are scenes of Kale perusing the appearance of Ms. Roemer's body, which isn't too hard to handle, either.

Disturbia is less of a teen thriller than you might expect, but is still more a teen thriller than I was hoping for. As much as I am in love with Roemer, the movie spends a bit too much time on the rather shallow relationship between the two leads. The romance, which really has no conflict to begin with other than the fact that Roemer is a tease of epic proportions, culminates in a scene where LaBeouf desperately shoots off a variety of lines about how he watches her from her room and knows everything about her. I'd take this as extremely creepy, but then again, I'm not a girl, and apparently girls feel like kissing guys after they've been told they've been watched for hours on end. Anyway, there are definitely some teen moments which seem a bit cheesy.

As for the rest of the movie, Disturbia is effective but not flawless. When the action picks up, things get pretty tense, but you pretty much know exactly what's going to happen, and how. Furthermore, the story feels rushed at times, and doesn't progress into the cat-and-mouse game I was expecting and hoping for. They start to suspect Morse way too soon, and in turn Morse figures things out very quickly. There isn't much intrigue or mystery, and I would have liked to see more elaborate setup. Much of the movie feels like a climax rather than a completely cohesive and intelligent story.

That being said, Disturbia is still entertaining from beginning to end. Flawless, yes, but bad, no. LaBeouf, who apparently has a good enough agent to not only have convinced everyone in Hollywood that he is the next big thing and who has landed him in parts such as Transformers and now Indiana Jones 4, is excellent, even when he has to shell out relatively cheesy romantic lines. Even if the hype is marketing driven, this guy has talent, and I don't expect him to go away anytime soon.

Disturbia is a fun, engaging thriller that has you on the edge of your seat, or smiling, throughout most of the film. The movie could have been fleshed out a bit more, but as is it is still an effective and entertaining film that will be remembered as one of LaBeouf's first major leading roles.

Review by Erik Samdahl unless otherwise indicated.

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