Friday, January 13, 2012

Disturbia. B

Shia LaBeouf's character in Disturbia has a trash heap of a bedroom, and that clutter seems invade the movie itself as it climbs towards its climax. What ever happened to the tidy, tight ending in thrillers? Take Disturbia's main inspiration, Rear Window, and note how that film opts out of a big bang finish in exchange for a quietly suspenseful close. If Disturbia had followed the tradition of that movie as it wound down rather than modern horror flicks, then it would be more worthy of being mentioned along side Hitchcock's classic. Besides its failure to close properly, Disturbia is a fantastic movie. The script originally came into the hands of Steven Spielberg, who then asked D.J. Caruso if he was interested. Seeing elements of the classic thriller and the 80s John Hughes teen comedies, Caruso and screenwriters Carl Ellsworth and Christopher Landon deliver just that. This is a smart, intelligent, and surprisingly scary movie that certainly borrows from Hitch's film, but also has some good ideas of its own. LaBeouf, right at the beginning of what looked to be a career as a huge movie star (it hasn't quite gone as planned), is Kale, a kid placed under house arrest for punching his teacher (it's a favor, the judge tells him). So, unlike James Stewart, who was confined to a wheelchair in Rear Window, Kale has a bit more freedom to roam around. He can even go outside, as long as he doesn't exit the front yard. Kale's mom is at work during the day, so most of the time Kale, his friend Ronnie, and his hot new neighbor Ashley have the house to themselves. Well, I assume you know where things go from there. Disturbia could have made many mistakes, but it mainly steers clear of them. At one point I thought it would go into The Stepfather territory, but luckily it never does. LaBeouf is great here, playing someone likable, complicated, technically adroit, and, shall we say, hesitantly aggressive. Disturbia is a great entertainment, miles better than most teen thrillers. Sure, it draws a lot from an old masterpiece, but there's nothing wrong with that as long as its used to expand into new territory. Disturbia does just that.

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