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Overall Rating

Awesome: 10%
Worth A Look: 5%
Pretty Bad35%
Total Crap: 15%

6 reviews, 24 user ratings

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by William Goss

"Peepin' With The Peeps"
2 stars

SCREENED AT THE 2007 SXSW FILM FESTIVAL: I’m neither the first nor the last to say that 'Disturbia' is a fairly transparent rip-off of Alfred Hitchcock’s classic, 'Rear Window,' but to be fair, this updated tale of a housebound voyeur who suspects his neighbor of being a murderer is just as indebted to the likes of Scooby-Doo, Nancy Drew, and the Hardy Boys.

After things kick off with an impressively startling (yet entirely unsurprising) car crash – one that could ultimately stand to be axed if it weren’t the sole thing passing for character development or excitement around these parts – the now-fatherless Kale (Shia LaBeouf) becomes sullen and withdrawn, and when a certain teacher pushes a certain button, Kale punches a certain face and lands himself under house arrest, much to the chagrin of mother Julie (Carrie-Anne Moss). Now fitted with ankle bracelet and plagued by boredom, Kale soon takes up voyeurism as a hobby, sometimes including pal Ronnie (Aaron Yoo) in his observation of some adjoining brats, new arrival/inevitable love interest Ashley (Sarah Roemer), and a neighbor (David Morse) whose shady behavior doesn’t seem so terribly far removed from the reported activities of a local serial killer.

I’m all for a teen thriller that manages to skimp on blood and is instead fraught with suspense, and while Disturbia easily meets the former requirement, it almost seems eager to fall short of the latter. There is simply nothing remotely clever or suspenseful on display here, and about the only real surprise is just how much director D.J. Caruso (the unforgivable Taking Lives) mistakes for being clever or suspenseful instead of woefully rote. For starters, ambiguity goes right out the (rear?) window right around the moment Morse is cast as the baddie, and while the intent was likely to play up the transparency of his role, it doesn’t help that his autopilot is even itself on autopilot as his various encounters with Kale plod along towards their unavoidable climactic confrontation.

Oddly enough, as thoroughly predictable as said climax is, its hide-and-seek-in-basement-with-killer hijinks are worth settling for by the time they roll around, as they prove to be the sole portion of the film that doesn’t try to be clever and subsequently miss the mark. When the mystery so persistently neglects to be mysterious, then at least the simple-minded agenda of the finale very nearly succeeds at something resembling thrills, reheated as they may be (co-writer Carl Ellsworth may have stumbled with a similar climax to his previous film, Red Eye, but that was only in the wake of an admirable economy that would have gone to great use here). However, until then, there’s still a terribly protracted plot to be reckoned with, during which our trio of scrappy detectives employ every camera, cell phone, and cliché they can get their hands on in an effort to provoke plenty of false scares and red herrings in the name of alleged tension.

Moss and relative newcomer Roemer are each adequate enough in their respective roles, despite being practically set aside as women Kale cares about, and thus, Potential Victims #1 and #2. Roemer in particular comes across as the next Jessica Biel, so cute that you nearly forget how she lacks nearly all emotive capacity whenever she opens her trap. Luckily, LaBeouf demonstrates some admirable chops, doing all the best he can to bring some dimension to a character that is every bit as uninspired as his circumstances.

Watchable as it all is, it still proceeds to systematically eliminate every which way it might work, might just scrape by, might actually entertain. In the realm of 'Disturbia,' the boy doesn’t cry wolf, he texts it, and the only reason Hitchcock isn’t rolling in his grave is because he’s too busy chilling with his iPod.

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originally posted: 04/12/07 20:01:19
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2007 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2007 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

9/05/18 Anne not too bad 2 stars
12/29/17 morris campbell fun tense rear window retread 4 stars
3/25/09 brian First hour is okay, then it turns into a slasher cliche fest with un-scary horror. 3 stars
3/08/09 SandySue Kept my attention all the way through. 3 stars
9/26/08 Shaun Wallner Awesome Cast!! 5 stars
6/06/08 TreeTiger Crap, crap, crap..! 1 stars
1/09/08 Who's your daddy? Fun movie - all you slammers relax abit 4 stars
11/16/07 R.W.Welch Rear Window light. Has teen appeal but is too contrived. 3 stars
10/28/07 Joe Smaltz draged on for the first hour and a half, but picked up during the last few minutes. 3 stars
9/25/07 Beau took to long for suspense and scary scenes to appear! herendous dialogue, a so so movie 3 stars
9/23/07 your mom THIS FILM IS AWSOME!!! GO SEE IT! 5 stars
9/19/07 Roman You guys are dumb, Shia's prformance in Disturbia brought him up to the top, 5 stars
9/17/07 Indrid Cold The fact that Carrie-Anne Moss is 40 years old is by far the scariest aspect of this movie. 3 stars
9/11/07 Jack ABSOLUTE SHOCKER, POOR POOR FILM, DO NOT GO AND SEE THIS! Shia Lebouef worst actor... EVER 1 stars
9/07/07 claudzx3 brilliant movie but very VERY scary 4 coz i saw it and i am like 12 lol 5 stars
9/04/07 faithly ridriguez i love it !!! the suspense was killin me... 5 stars
8/22/07 Double M Predictable - irrational move - predictable! still, fun parts. kids my age (20) may like it 3 stars
8/13/07 Wee Todd Didd Nothing special, didn't totally suck, but just so so 2 stars
7/08/07 Tom Servo You hear's the sound of Hitchcock rolling in his grave-verdict= F 1 stars
5/17/07 Ole Man Bourbon Not much to it 3 stars
5/11/07 Tiffany Great Film 5 stars
4/30/07 Caiphn Boring, ridiculous dialogue, I walked out after 45 minutes. Avoid this. 2 stars
4/23/07 Courtney I heart this movie. At first I thought it was going to be retard. Go see it. 4 stars
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  13-Apr-2007 (PG-13)
  DVD: 07-Aug-2007



Directed by
  D.J. Caruso

Written by
  Christopher Landon
  Carl Ellsworth

  Shia LaBeouf
  David Morse
  Sarah Roemer
  Carrie-Anne Moss

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