Friday, January 29, 2010

Review: Shia LaBeouf the Real Deal in "Disturbia"

TRASH IN MY EYE No. 64 (of 2007) by Leroy Douresseaux

Disturbia (2007)
Running time: 104 minutes; MPAA – PG-13 for sequences of terror and violence and for some sexuality
WRITERS: Christopher Landon and Carl Ellsworth; from a story by Christopher Landon
PRODUCERS: Joe Medjuck, E. Bennett Walsh and Jackie Marcus
EDITOR: Jim Page

THRILLER/HORROR with elements of drama and romance

Starring: Shia LaBeouf, David Morse, Sarah Roemer, Carrie-Anne Moss, Aaron Yoo, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Matt Craven, and Viola Davis

For his new film, Disturbia, director D.J. Caruso (Taking Lives) takes a youth-oriented spin on Alfred Hitchcock classic Rear Window and submerges it deep in the slasher film sub-genre that has thrived on and off since the late 1970’s. Meanwhile, his star, Shia LaBeouf is hitting his stride as an in-demand actor. Although Shia is playing a teen again as he did so famously in the Disney Channel series, Even Stevens (for which he won a Daytime Emmy Award) and his hit big-screen debut, Holes, he’s grown up now.

After his father dies, Kale (LaBeouf) becomes sullen and withdrawn. After he punches his high school Spanish teacher, Kale gets three months of house arrest, avoiding time in prison because of his hard-working mother, Julie (Carrie-Anne Moss). Kale must wear an ankle monitor, and he can’t go beyond a 100-yard perimeter from a sensor in his kitchen. After a while, he grows tired of videogames, surfing the Net, TV, and junk food, so he turns to spying on his neighbors with the help of his best friend, Ronnie (Aaron Yoo), and some second hand surveillance equipment. That’s how he meets his hot new neighbor, fellow teen Ashley (Sarah Roemer). She joins Ronnie and Kale in their fun and games, and Kale falls hard for Ashley. Their fun and games takes a really bad turn when they discover that Kale’s next-door neighbor, Mr. Turner (David Morse), may be a serial killer. No one believes them, and Mr. Turner’s secrets may cost them their lives.

While I thought that there were enough skilled filmmakers involved to at least make Disturbia hit all the right notes as a movie thriller, I was still surprised by how much I liked it. The film does indeed hit all the right notes and, with a heavy hand, hit all the right buttons. It’s occasionally heart stopping, mostly scary, and downright nasty and dirty. True, it’s not a thinking man’s thriller because there are way too many holes in the plot and flaws in the logic. Still, it works as an entertaining, escapist horror/thriller.

As Ashley, Sarah Roemer seems a bit too physically mature for just about any character the remarkably boyish Shia LaBeouf could play. She is a hottie, and he’s quite likable, so their relationship benefits the film more than it harms it. David Morse’s Mr. Turner is an old-fashioned slasher – a murderer hiding out in the tree-lined streets of suburbia where beautiful two-story homes hide dysfunctional families. As usual Mr. Turner uses his neighborhood home as burying ground for his large number of kills. He may not be supernatural, but Mr. Turner is just as foul and as dangerous as Freddie, Jason or Michael.

6 of 10

Sunday, April 15, 2007


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