After his father's death, Kale Brecht (LaBeouf) becomes sullen, withdrawn, and troubled -- so much so that he finds himself under a court-ordered sentence of house arrest. His mother, Julie (Moss), works night and day to support herself and her son, only to be met with indifference and lethargy. The walls of his house begin to close in on Kale. He becomes a voyeur as his interests turn outside the windows of his suburban home towards those of his neighbors, one of which Kale begins to suspect is a serial killer. But, are his suspicions merely the product of cabin fever and his overactive imagination? (from IMDB.com)
The last time I went to see a 'thrills and chills' movie it was the lame duck When a Stranger Calls, a 'scary' teen flick that brought more yawns than jolts. Few films have ever attempted to give me the desired mix of thrilling and entertaining at the same time; more often than not it's all too heavy on the former and nothing on the latter. However, in the upper-class, films like Frequency, Red Eye, and The Forgotten turn out to be some of my personal favorites, as well as the newest entry, Disturbia.
While it doesn't break any new ground, Disturbia manages to still aim high at entertainment. From the looks of the trailer, you could probably tell it is an obvious rip-off of the old Hitchcock classic Rear Window, whereas in that case Jimmy Stewart is confined to his apartment building with a broken leg. By comparing the two films, I run the risk of making a huge error, so by no means does Disturbia compare, but like I noted, it does have its moments.
Early on, the film sets the tone for the eerie and perverted voyeurism that Kale exploits himself in. Often gazing at his neighbor, Ashley, when she is either swimming, exercising, or merely changing her clothes, I as the viewer, didn't know whether I was supposed to be embarrassed or disgusted. There is no reason behind his actions (other than the fact that he's cooped up in his house for three months and has nothing else to do), and when friend Ronnie comes over, the ogling continues. I don't recall how many times the camera lingered over Ashley's figure and wanted to desperately not think our hero, Kale, was a pervert. Later in the film, Kale admits to Ashley that he has indeed been looking at her and appears nervous and embarrassed telling her that she is more than a physical object and retells of her many non-physical features. Still, while the idea behind the scene is nice, I can't help feel that Kale isn't truly remorseful- especially when the scene that follows is the two of them making out in his bedroom.
Another red flag is the naughty young neighbors that live across the street from Kale. These 10-something runts engage in watching -- you guessed it -- pornographic material. Though still seen through Kale's binoculars, you can still make out a few clips from softcore pornography (no outright nudity). Kale himself is not enjoying it, rather plotting the take-down of the kids after they prank him earlier in the film. Kale succeeds in doing so by film's end, but not without another run through of the sensual clips. The sum of this content ruins the film's overall quality and the shots (the kissing, the leering, the porn) are seen as useless sex-sellers.
Before the movie suffers from a total tackle, it still promises some menial thrills and chills that actually excite and become seat-jumpers. I was among the seat jumpers as the house-chase scenes reminded me of the Cillian Murphy stalker moments in Red Eye. Along with the spook-fest came hordes of gore though. For those of you who are perturbed about such things, this comes as a warning. Bodies are seen strewn in places as well as decomposed corpses. Blood is an active liquid that makes an appearance. Some characters are beaten and/or stabbed, and some even gagged. The opening sequence involves a rather jolting car accident. The violence plays along with the plot, but is intense nonetheless. While I didn't find it offensive, some viewers may. Also to note, is over 20 uses of the "s" word. Other minor obscenities are also used.
So what's to make of it? Disturbia presents itself at two major points. First point is the obvious thrill factor. It works well at achieving both a slight scare and some fun. Nothing you haven't seen before, but it works well as a mediocre modern adaptation to its Hitchcock counterpart of old. The second point is the slough of voyeurism. Several times Kale crosses the border of curious onlooker with a pair of binoculars to creepy pervert with a pair of binoculars. While the last thirty or so minutes works well as an edge-of-your seat thriller, it's the first sixty minutes that bother me the most.
- Zachary Anderson, (reviewed: 4/15/07)
Disclaimer: All reviews are based solely on the opinions of the reviewer. Most reviews are rated on how the reviewer enjoyed the film overall, not exclusively on content. However, if the content really affects the reviewer's opinion and experience of the film, it will definitely affect the reviewer's overall rating.
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