Sunday, April 22, 2007

Clumsily Made: Disturbia

Directed by D.J. Caruso
Released April 13, 2007

"Disturbia" is the story of Kale, a token troubled youth whose father's untimely death has motivated him to do things like punch his teacher in the face, putting him under house arrest. Bored and with little to do, he begins to spy on his neighbors. He discovers two wildly opposing attractions - a beautiful girl next door who he can obsess over, and a potential serial killer on the other side. How can he reveal his neighbor's guilt without leaving his house?

The premise is extremely interesting, very much like that of "Rear Window" (which I have yet to see). Unfortunately, the product is very disappointing. Kale is a compeletely unsympathetic character, obnoxious from the start. His friend Ronnie provides nice but uneven comic relief. His neighbor is unbelievably seductive, yet contains no trace of personality. The evil neighbor is too villain-y, and his character is very undeveloped. The jump scenes are not scary because we first see the evil neighbor, then discover where he is standing, as opposed to having him pop out and scare us.

Shia LaBeouf does a decent enough job portraying an unlikeable juvenille delinquent whose appetite for adventure is a bit too large. Sarah Roemer displays hardly any trace of acting ability, though the role, as it is written, requires little from her. Carrie-Anne Moss, as Kale's mother, is one-dimensional and does nothing to enhance an otherwise throwaway role. Aaron Yoo, as comic relief friend Ronnie, is fun but not terribly believable. David Morse, as the evil neighbor, has done much better in previous roles and the less-than-stellar writing is much more at fault than his performance skills.

I have much to say about the film's ending, but in keeping with my tendency to review TV episodes with spoilers but leave film reviews spoiler-free, I will encourage anyone who has seen to the film to contact me to discuss further. The main problem, besides a generally simplistic structure, is that Kale is rarely alone, and thus the suspense is hardly there. More relevant, however, is the fact that his condition, unlike that of the protagonist of "Rear Window," does not keep him confined to his home. Rather, if he leaves, he will set off an alarm and the police will arrive. Nonetheless, the confines of his situation are unstable, and the film suffers.


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