Disturbia (2007)


It's not that I have a problem with filmmakers doing some pretty blatant rehashes of Alfred Hitchcock. Hell, Brian De Palma's been doing it for 25 years and I love most of his movies. What irks me about flicks like Disturbia is that they crib from the master while displaying very little of Hitchcock's timing, character, and sense of actual danger. Disturbia is a flatly-entertaining and entirely watchable retread of the classic Rear Window -- only it's lacking the urgency, intensity and surprises that a film like this really needs.

Underrated director D.J. Caruso presents a stylish and reasonably fast-paced teen-friendly thriller, one that boasts a very solid lead performance from Shia LaBeouf -- and very little else. It's the story of a teen under house arrest who gradually becomes convinced that one of his neighbors is a ruthless murderer. Along with some help from a comic relief sidekick, a disbelieving mom, and a newly-arrived hottie-next-door, our affable young hero aims to get to the root of the problem. Needless to say there are several skeptical cops, red herrings and mild bouts of suspense, but there's next to nothing here you haven't seen before -- even if you (somehow) haven't seen Rear Window.

But a whole lot could be forgiven if Caruso and his screenwriters had opted to throw a few curve-balls into the mix. As the flick begins to wind down (and believe me, you'll know), you're bound to feel a little short-shrifted by what's being sold as a "scorching nail-biter." Again, Caruso knows how to shoot with confidence and he's never anything but stylish (and I still consider myself a fan), but film critics use the phrase "paint by numbers" for a reason. And that reason is plastered all over the screenplay for Disturbia.

Extras-wise, DreamWorks wasn't stingy. Caruso, LaBeouf and actress Sarah Roemer deliver an energetic-yet-obvious audio commentary that's only occasionally interrupted by the ringing of cell phones. There's also a standard 15-minute "making of" piece that should prove diverting enough to hardcore fans of the film. You'll also find about five minutes of deleted scenes, a brief outtake reel, a "Don't Make Me Wait" music video, the theatrical trailer, a photo gallery, and a little quiz doohickey. Solid package, completely forgettable flick.