Aside from some contrivances to keep the plot moving along, Disturbia is a fun teenage update on the Rear Window concept. Nicely updated with all the modern technology quirks, up and coming Shia LaBeouf leads a teenage cast in this surprisingly tight thriller. It could move faster, but the payoff is more than worth it.
In a world where everyone keeps their windows open, LaBeouf plays Kale, a teenager under house arrest. Co-writers Christopher Landon and Carl Ellsworth do a fine job of covering up nearly all of the plot holes associated with available electronics, and the majority of the build-up to the finale is spent prepping the audience by blocking all potential ways out.
Disturbia features two critical flaws, though it’s not enough to destroy the narrative. First, the teenage romance fails miserably. A teenage girl who catches you spying on her from your bedroom window while she undresses won't jump into bed with you. It doesn’t happen (though this has nothing to do with personal experience… really). The world would be an awfully strange place if this were the case.
This subplot also takes up a staggering amount of screen time. Some of it is used to build the killer, yet with about a half of the film cut, the film would have been no worse for the wear. Secondly, there are certain things that happen that are far too cobbled together to make any sense. Every time Kale jumps past his 100-foot limitation from his house, the police are there within a matter of seconds (except of course when he needs them the most).
With those problems out of the way, Disturbia still manages to become a gripping little thriller. It does a fantastic job of toying with its audience, playing with the option that Kale might be completely crazy. When the payoff arrives, the creepy direction leads to multiple scares that work completely as intended to pull the audience out of their seat. It’s a near classic chase.
This soft HD transfer will disappoint hardcore videophiles, while others will find it acceptable. It’s soft and lacking in detail, while colors pop brightly where they need to be. The transfer is clean with limited grain or imperfections. This is a definite improvement over the standard DVD, though the lack of heavy detail is a letdown.
If you’re looking to show off a subwoofer, Disturbia has some powerful moments to show off. An early car accident is booming, and the soundtrack nicely sits under the dialogue typically with a heavy bass line. Decent surround work is effective during the final attack. A thunderstorm sets the backdrop for the audio here.
A solid 15-minute making of leads the way for the extras, all of which are in HD. Four brief deleted scenes run slightly over four minutes, and they simply serve to fill in minor character details unimportant to the plot. A brief outtake reel has a few worthwhile clips.
A music video is followed by Serial Pursuit, which features pop-up trivia as the movie plays. Nearly all of the factoids are unrelated to the movie are random. A commentary from the director D.J. Caruso and LaBeouf rounds off the features section.
Disturbia has been around since the late ‘90s, but was dropped when Christopher Reeve’s Rear Window TV remake was announced. It would be 2004 before the script was reworked. It was worth the wait for Dreamworks, who hauled in around $60 million in profits during its theatrical run.