BluRay/DVD Reviews

DISTURBIA

By • Aug 7th, 2007 •

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I was watching my DVD of DISTURBIA and I came to an appalling realization about my daily work routine. My work life is not that dissimilar to a teenager forced into house arrest. This was heart breaking for two simple reasons; I’m way beyond the age of a teenager (physically, at least) and I’m technically free to go about as I wish. Yet, for twelve hours a day, I rarely stray far from my home or computer keyboard. When taking on the role of a questionably employed freelance writer, one seems to have endless free time to workout the wording structure on that next paragraph to make the article a true masterpiece, at least in the author’s mind. That leaves lots of time to throw that tennis ball against the office wall and see if you can catch it without rolling your chair, lots of time to come up with new ways to stick it to telemarketers and, yes… lots of time to stare out your window, from the privacy of your own home, and see what the neighborhood is doing. While I never resorted to a spyglass or a pair of binoculars, I have swiveled my chair around to look out the window and caught my neighbors going about their lives, unbeknownst to them. It is a strangely entertaining way to pass the time, weather you have dedicated your brain to what you are seeing or not.

Lead character Kale (brilliantly portrayed by youngster Shia LaBeouf) loses his father in a horrible car accident. Over the preceding year he develops resentment toward others and a bad attitude in general. Upon punching out his Spanish teacher, Kale is sentenced to house arrest. He goes about his life in his kick-ass house, at first, as usual. Then his mother cancels his X-Box and iTunes account, along with her services as the maid of his unkempt room. Kale’s best friend is on vacation in Hawaii for the beginning of his sentence and with nothing left to entertain his young brain he takes to checking up on his suburban community. There’s the couple across the street from his bedroom window where the husband is banging the family maid. There are the three young siblings that Kale owes retribution for taking advantage of his recent legal predicament. There’s the neighbor behind him, Mr. Turner, which mows his lawn twice a day like clockwork. Then there is the new family directly next door with a young and beautiful daughter, which he hasn’t been able to meet, thanks to his recent legal troubles.

Due to several local news reports about a series of violent murders against women, Kale begins to suspect his neighbor Mr. Robert Turner (the great character actor, David Morse) of the crimes. But, what does a teenager know and it seems that his suspicions are unwarranted. He finally works out a gimmick to meet his lovely new neighbor and his best friend arrives back in town. He gets them involved with the unlawful surveillance of Mr. Turner’s house.

Former sidekick to director John Badham, director D.J. Caruso does a good, yet harmless job of moving the suspense and action of this film. He captures the greatest feelings of living in suburbia that has only been topped by Steven Spielberg. I immediately thought back to the fun scenes of suburban life that were conveyed in the films E.T.: THE EXTRA-TERRESTRIAL, POLTERGEIST and THE ‘BURBS, all films Mr. Spielberg is a part of, whether directing or producing. I loved the scenes of Kale marking his legal territory with kite string so he could move about his outdoor property without his ankle-alarm going off. It began to look like a guideline for scientists in Antarctica afraid of losing their way in blinding snowstorms. Shia LaBeouf has broken away from the young supporting role with this feature. He proves his likeability and talents by taking on the role of young Kale. David Morse, who should be well on his way to earning an Emmy for his role of a revenge-seeking cop on the hit television show HOUSE, M.D., as expected, is remarkable. He gives off a vibe that is enjoyable, yet creepy. But, is creepiness a customary trait of all serial killers? The whole cast in this feature is well worth mentioning, but I must single out Matt Craven as Kale’s father. I’ve enjoyed the surprise appearance of character actor Craven since his nerve-calming turn as the chemist in JACOB’S LADDER. You’ll wish he appeared a little longer than four minutes. Brand new young starlet Sarah Roemer is one to watch out for; she was simply the perfect choice to play against LaBeouf.

I truly enjoyed all aspects of the special features to this DVD. The commentary with the director and two of the stars was entertaining yet informative, as was the ‘making of’ featurette. David Morse refused to fraternize with anybody from the teenage cast to add to the mystery of his character. Morse also shattered his hand while filming and conducted business as usual for further takes, not stopping due to the pain.

This film is endlessly compared to Hitchcock’s REAR WINDOW (I did my best not to bring it up). I love REAR WINDOW, but the fact of the matter is that this film has way more fun with the audience by never denying it is a rip-off of that classic feature. While at times DISTURBIA seems to be nothing more than just a film slightly above a television movie of the week, I have to admit you could spend your time in more useless ways. Just writing this I’ve already crammed forty grape tomatoes in my mouth and gotten twelve pencils to stick in my ceiling. Alas, it seems more and more like house arrest everyday to me. DISTURBIA is recommended.

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