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D.J. Caruso
Shia LaBeouf, Sarah Roemer, Carrie-Anne Moss, David Morse, Aaron Yoo, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Matt Craven, Viola Davis
Writing Credits:
Carl Ellsworth, Christopher B. Landon (and story)

Every killer lives next door to someone.

Distressed by his father's untimely death, a teenager (Shia LaBeouf) begins acting out and soon finds himself under house arrest after getting into trouble one too many times. To help pass the time stuck indoors, he begins spying on his neighbors, only to become convinced that the guy living across the street is killing young women.

Box Office:
$20 million.
Opening Weekend
$23.025 million on 2925 screens.
Domestic Gross
$79.305 million.

Rated PG-13

Widescreen 1.85:1/16x9
English Dolby Digital 5.1 EX
Spanish Dolby Digital 5.1 EX
French Dolby Digital 5.1 EX
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 104 min.
Price: $29.99
Release Date: 8/7/07

• Audio Commentary with Director DJ Caruso and Actors Shia LaBeouf and Sarah Roemer
• Serial Pursuit Trivia Pop-Up Quiz
• Deleted Scenes
• “The Making of Disturbia” Featurette
• Outtakes
• Music Video
• Photo Gallery
• Theatrical Trailer
• Previews


Sony 36" WEGA KV-36FS12 Monitor; Sony DA333ES Processor/Receiver; Panasonic CV-50 DVD Player using component outputs; Michael Green Revolution Cinema 6i Speakers (all five); Sony SA-WM40 Subwoofer.


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Disturbia (2007)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (July 23, 2007)

2007 has rapidly turned into the Year of Shia LaBeouf. Previously best known for kid-oriented fare like 2003’s Holes and the Disney Channel show Even Stevens, LaBeouf took steps toward becoming a star with widespread appeal. Of course, he appeared Tranformers, one of the summer’s biggest hits, and became arguably the best part of that flick.

However, that movie took in the big bucks mostly due to the rock-em-sock-em action, so I don’t know how much effect its success will have on LaBeouf’s career. On the other hand, his starring turn in the spring’s Disturbia clearly will increase his future prospects. The Little Teen Thriller That Could, this one earned $78 million with US viewers. That’s not a killer sum, of course; Transformers earned more than that in its first few days. However, for a low-budget effort like Disturbia, the returns were surprisingly strong, and the film showed great “legs”, as it stayed in the box office top ten for weeks.

It’ll be interesting to see how LaBeouf’s career plays out, but Disturbia definitely demonstrates his potential. He plays Kale Brecht, a sullen teen. Kale used to be better adjusted, but his father’s (Matt Craven) death left him bitter and morose.

Kale also shows a temper. When the subject of his father arises, he punches his Spanish teacher (Rene Rivera) and ends up in court. The judge (Charles Carroll) sentences him to three months of house arrest.

Stuck inside for the summer, Kale tries to make the best of it. When his mother cuts off a number of entertainment venues, he resorts to voyeurism and keeps tabs on the locals. His favorite? Sexy new neighbor Ashley (Sarah Roemer). She catches Kale and his buddy Ronnie (Aaron Yoo) spying on her as she swims, but she doesn’t get angry. Instead, she becomes part of their “stakeout” of suspicious neighbor Robert Turner (David Morse).

Kale becomes convinced that Turner is a murderer but his homebound nature makes it tough for him to follow up on his suspicions. The movie follows his sleuthing and the repercussions that follow.

On the surface, Disturbia looks like nothing more than a teen-oriented update of Hitchcock’s 1954 classic Rear Window. And you know what? Beneath the surface, Disturbia is nothing more than a teen-oriented update on Rear Window. Oh, it doesn’t create a literal remake, but the similarities abound.

A lack of originality aside, Disturbia works perfectly well for what it is: a lightweight thriller. LaBeouf continues to earn his status as a rising star with his deft performance as Kale. The role requires him to take on a number of different moods and attitudes, all of which LaBeouf handles well. He also shows good chemistry with Roemer. She flirts and teases more than she acts, but she interacts well with LaBeouf and they create an interesting couple.

One factor that allows Disturbia to prosper stems from the fact that it doesn’t purely steal from Hitchcock. It also borrows from the Eighties teen flick vein, which makes it work like a combination of Rear Window and Say Anything. It melds the two genres surprisingly well and may actually prove most successful when it stays within the teen romance side of things. While I like LaBeouf’s performance in all ways, he does best when he can show personality and quirks. The action segments tend to negate those elements, so he’s at his most enjoyable during quieter scenes.

Indeed, the thriller climax of Disturbia ends up as the flick’s least successful element. Earlier suspense pieces come across pretty well, largely due to David Morse’s quietly spooky performance. However, when all hell breaks loose at the end, logic flies out the window and the movie just becomes too absurd. It’s not a terrible conclusion, but it robs the film of some punch.

Despite that misstep, I think Disturbia offers a pretty good update on the Rear Window formula. It integrates new technology in a satisfying way and spices up the story with a teen romance twist that actually adds to the tale. This is a light pleasure but it’s enjoyable nonetheless.

The DVD Grades: Picture A-/ Audio B/ Bonus B

Disturbia appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 1.85:1 on this single-sided, double-layered DVD; the image has been enhanced for 16X9 televisions. No issues materialized during this fine presentation.

Sharpness always looked great. From start to finish, the movie seemed concise and accurate, with no signs of softness on display. Jagged edges and shimmering were absent, and I detected no instances of edge enhancement. In addition, source flaws failed to occur.

Much of the time the palette of Disturbia went with a slightly golden tint to match the suburban setting. It often brought us more of a sickly green hue or a cold blue for shots that involved Turner. Across the board, the colors fit with the design and came across well. Blacks seemed deep and firm, while shadows showed good clarity and delineation. This was a consistently positive transfer.

Though not as impressive, the Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtrack of Disturbia was more than acceptable. The soundfield added a little spark to the proceedings, though it never really excelled. The car crash early in the flick offered its biggest impact; none of the later scenes seemed quite as dynamic. Still, music showed good definition, and the various environmental bits presented nice movement and spatial delineation. The surrounds brought out decent reinforcement along with occasional instances of unique info like doorbells.

Audio quality was fine. Speech seemed natural and concise, with no edginess or other problems. Music was lively and dynamic, and effects worked the same way. They appeared clear and accurate; distortion never interfered with the presentation. This wasn’t a particularly involving mix, but it was pretty good.

When we check out the disc’s extras, we open with an audio commentary from director DJ Caruso and actors Shia LaBeouf and Sarah Roemer. All three sit together for this running, screen-specific chat. They discuss cast and performances, sets and locations, stunts and action, music and other anecdotes from the shoot.

Expect a loose and lively chat here. For good or for bad, the tone remains playful. This means the track moves at a brisk pace, but it also comes with lots of adolescent humor and goofiness. We also get interruptions when Caruso takes cell phone calls – shut it off for the commentary, dude! – and when the participants eat. Tangential info includes a disgusting story about why Roemer doesn’t eat meat off the bone. Anyway, despite some ups and downs, this usually amounts to a fairly interesting piece.

For another option while you watch the movie, we get a Serial Pursuit Trivia Pop-up/Quiz. This uses the subtitle track to tell us about cast and crew and the production as well as concepts seen in the movie like house arrest, video games, serial killers, and voyeurism. We also get “counters” that tell us how many skulls and red lights we see in the movie.

All of this is pretty inconsequential but fun. I’m not clear where the “quiz” part of the presentation comes in; a few questions pop up as part of the track, but they don’t really make it a “quiz”. Instead, it operates as a pretty standard text commentary. In that capacity, it gives us some nice notes and adds to our knowledge of the flick.

Four Deleted Scenes fill a total of four minutes, 34 seconds. These include “Do You Wanna Talk?” (1:17), “I Forbid It” (0:49), “Operation Stupid” (0:54) and “You’re Breaking My Heart” (1:33). Carrie-Anne Moss gets much of the extra time, as three of the clips expand her role as Kale’s mother. None of them really add anything, though, and they probably should have been cut. “Stupid” shows a little more of Kale and Ronnie; it fails to bring anything useful to the table.

A featurette called The Making of Disturbia runs 14 minutes, 51 seconds. It mixes movie clips, shots from the set, and interviews. We hear from Caruso, LaBeouf, Roemer, producer Joe Medjuck, screenwriters Christopher Landon and Carl Ellsworth, production designer Tom Southwell, stunt coordinator Manny Perry, and actors David Morse, Carrie-Anne Moss, and Aaron Yoo. We learn a little about the film’s theme and script, Caruso’s work on the set, the cast, characters and performances, tone and visual design, and stunts.

“Making” does little to rise above the level of standard promotional featurette. Actually, it’s a bit better than the average puff piece, but I can't say it reveals much about the film or its creation. It progresses in a disjointed way that makes it awkward. Though we get enough useful material to make the show worth a look, it’s not a particularly memorable piece.

For the record, as you go through the commentary, the text trivia and the featurette, you will never once notice any mention of Rear Window. Is that because those behind Disturbia don’t think the two share that many similarities, or did the suits decree that no one would mention this flick’s obvious influence? That I don’t know, but it seems odd that no one would at least nod in Hitchcock’s direction.

A few minor components complete the DVD. Outtakes run one minute, 27 seconds and offer some of the standard goofs and giggles. However, since it also includes a few improv lines from LaBeouf and Matt Craven, it’s a little better than most of these collections.

We find a music video for “Don’t Make Me Wait” by This World Fair. Much of the clip alternates between movie scenes and lip-synch bits, though we do get some shots of the girlie lead singer as he deals with a hot blonde. The song seems whiny, and the video isn’t much better. A Photo Gallery includes 47 images. These present a mix of shots from the set and publicity stills. None of them come across as very interesting.

The DVD opens with some ads. We find promos for Stardust, Blades of Glory, and Next. We also get the movie’s trailer. The other clips can be found in the Previews domain along with a look at Beneath, She’s the Man and Super Sweet 16: The Movie.

Disturbia offers an erratic but usually entertaining thriller in the Hitchcock vein. It sags at times – especially during the climax – but it compensates with enough charms to make it enjoyable. The DVD provides excellent visuals as well as pretty good audio and extras. Disturbia deserves your attention.

Viewer Film Ratings: 4.2592 Stars Number of Votes: 27
6 3:
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