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Disturbia

Movie title: Disturbia (B+) (2007)
Grade: B+ (3 ½ stars) Recommended!
Rated: R
Summation: A teen living under house arrest becomes convinced his neighbor is a serial killer.
Spoilers ahead: No


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Things have taken a bad turn for Kale (Shia LaBeouf). He’s a great kid, or was. Things were going well for him, until his father died tragically, sending his life spinning out of control. Things get bad in terms of trouble with the law. Being eventually confined to his home, he finds himself in the perfect position to do some good, albeit in a nosey, tedious sort of way. Will he be able to stop the serial-killing psychopath who lives next door while under house arrest? And what will he do when he becomes the target?

That’s what Disturbia is about, and it is...yes...disturbing. A lot of us can tell stories about the weirdoes who live down the street. Movies have been made in the same vein (The Burbs, 1989, and Hitchcock’s classic Rear Window, 1954) and have been successful. And while fear of living next door to a mutilating madman may be unwarranted, horror movies on the idea are still appealing.

The film’s attention to detail commands respect; scenes of Kale scratching from prolonged wearing of the house arrest bracelet, bizarre hobbies being created out of chronic boredom, an irate mother who’s had enough, a careless cop who doesn’t show up when he’s needed most, this stuff’s the seasoning of the film. I was particularly moved by the horrific facial expressions at Kale’s seeing a mangled, dead father.

The dialogue may not be much to speak of, but the on-the-level acting is. And to me, non-cheesy kid behavior in movies geared towards younger audiences should always be rewarded in lots of bonus points. I’ll even forgive a hackneyed chase scene of Kale running down the street after some kids who throw dog poop on his porch, leading to his first run-in with adversarial Officer Gutierrez (Hose Pablo Cantillo), a cousin of Senor Gutierrez (Rene Rivero), whom Kale assaulted, which led to his confinement. The chase scene was the only big “Doh!” moment in the film.

Aside from juvenile corny-ness, Disturbia maintains the necessary level of suspense with some viable plot-twists. Being entertaining while still being faithful to its mission to win the appeal of a juvenile audience, Disturbia does alright. Mr. Turner (David Morse) played a good villain. Anything he’s in is graced with a commanding presence and an intimidation factor surpassed only by an Eastwood frown. While not perfect, the film is an effective thriller with enough suspense and surprise to make it memorable.

(JH)

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Director: D.J. Caruso
Starring: Shia LaBeouf “Kale,” Sarah Roemer “Ashley,” Carrie-Anne Moss “Julie,” David Morse “Mr. Turner,” Aaron Yoo “Ronnie,” Jose Pablo Cantillo “Officer Gutierrez,” Matt Craven “Daniel Brecht,” Viola Davis “Detective Parker,” Senor Gutierrez “Rene Rivero”
Genre: Thriller/Horror/Drama

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