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Movie Review: Disturbia – Missing One Crime-Solving, Talking Dog

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Written by El Articulo Definido

And I would have gotten away with it, too, if it wasn't for those meddling kids and their stupid dog … okay, there wasn't a dog in this particular mix of the Scooby-Doo gang, but there should have been. Disturbia, which is being billed by the rabid movie-going public as a teenage remake of Rear Window, owes as much to Hitchcock as they do Hanna-Barbera.

Kale (Shia Labeouf) is your typical 17-year-old high school kid until his life is thrown into a top spin when his Dad is killed in a car accident while the two are returning from a fishing trip. That sort of thing, understandably, changes a kid. So, it is also understandable when Kale punches his Spanish teacher in the face for making inappropriate comments about the aforementioned dead father being disappointed in his son over missing a Spanish assignment. Understandable, not reasonable, the entire incident is ridiculous, but also serves to put Kale under house arrest during the summer before his senior year of high school. Now, when Mom (Carrie-Anne Moss) cuts off the XBox online service, as well as his iTunes, what is a boy to do, but pick up a set of binoculars and begin living a life of voyeurism, watching his neighbors swim in bikinis, do yoga in their bedroom, conduct extra-marital affairs, and kill unsuspecting local women.

First of all, let's remind ourselves that this film is PG-13, and is, therefore, a horror movie for the younger set. It isn't gory, there's little blood, and there isn't any real scenes of murder. It does, however, build some decent suspense, and the Scooby gang here is good-looking and charming, but I shouldn't see the boom mic once, let alone 4 times. I understand that this was an early screening, and I hope the problem is fixed prior to the actual release date, because I cannot suspend my disbelief and feel scared by the slow build when I'm staring at a boom mic.

Moreover, I have an equally hard time believing that our killer can be taken down by three teenage kids, after alluding the police for nearly seven years. Nor can I believe that a killer who has been active for so long would suddenly become so sloppy in dismembering bodies without a shade properly pulled. David Morse is scary enough, and even downright creepy, but at no point do we really feel that he might not be the killer and merely suspected because of a stir-crazy boy and his wild imagination. This guy is definitely the killer, but why is he so damn sloppy?

There are a lot of things that I liked about this movie, but they are far outweighed by the things I didn't like. The fun little relationship that develops between Kale and neighbor Ashley (Sarah Roemer) is cute, but it's not enough. And all of the psychological pressures that Kale should be feeling are not only overlooked by the adults in his life, but the filmmakers as well. After foiling a crazed serial killer, this boy should be completely unravelling, not looking for some smoochie time, no matter how hot that neighbor is.

This movie will do well at the box office as long as its intended audience finds their way there. Teenagers that have never seen Rear Window will be looking at some fresh concepts, but let's just hope that their time spent with cartoons helps them see through this drivel and demand more from these types of movies.

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About Gordon S. Miller

Gordon S. Miller is the artist formerly known as El Bicho, the nom de plume he used when he first began reviewing movies online for The Masked Movie Snobs in 2003. Before the year was out, he became that site's publisher. Over the years, he has also contributed to a number of other sites as a writer and editor, such as FilmRadar, Film School Rejects, High Def Digest, and Blogcritics. He is the Publisher of Cinema Sentries. Some of his random thoughts can be found at twitter.com/ElBicho_CS