Remember how much fun it is to watch all the eccentricities of your bizarre neighbors? Well if you can’t, Disturbia will have a whole new generation peering out their windows, keeping a neighborhood watch on all of that suburban madness.
Like Rear Window and The Burbs before it, Disturbia is a whodunit mystery that mixes humor, action and suspense when a group of obsessive neighbors believe that one of the local residents has been murdering beautiful girls in the night.
Is it just their imaginations playing tricks on them or is a cold blooded killer really lurking next door? That is the question that director D.J. Caruso poses for the audience in this Hitchockian thriller. As Shia LaBeouf, the young star of Disturbia, falls into a panicked state of paranoia, so does the audience, allowing Caruso to capitalize on every bit of tension. While Caruso’s previous efforts like Taking Lives and Two for the Money have been relatively bland and unsuccessful, thrills and chills seems to be an area the director succeeds in, accomplishing quite a few big scares with very little blood and violence.
While parts of Disturbia certainly suggest the twisted horrors of gross out, exploitation flicks like Hostel and the Saw series, it successfully brings these concepts home to the eerie calm of suburbia without the over-the-top gore. Disturbia is all about tension, and rendering the film’s lead character helpless within his home, under house arrest, is an ingenious update to the broken leg which kept the hero of Rear Window dependent on the investigation skills of others.
While Disturbia seems to provide the role that will finally free LaBeouf of his Disney Channel past, it is the remainder of the film’s young cast, Sarah Roemer and Aaron Yoo that share some of the budding star’s spotlight. Though Aaron Yoo provides some great comic relief, and perhaps one of the best jump scares in the whole movie, it is the young, summer romance between Labeouf and Roemer that really gives the film a much needed credibility boost that separates it from other teeny bopper, horror pictures.
When the mostly bikini clad, girl next door tempts LaBeouf with a kiss just outside of his house arrest perimeter, you can’t help but feel teased too. When the duo finally does make their romantic connection it is a classic example of a slow build relationship coming together in an example of an iconic on screen kiss, perhaps the best between two young actors since The Girl Next Door.
In an era where remakes and PG-13 horror films rarely ever meet even the lowest of expectations, Disturbia is a picture that defies these conventions. It is scary without being trite. It is funny without being campy. Most importantly, it doesn’t damper Hitchcock’s original concept. Disturbia lovingly updates the story for the Ipod generation to enjoy. Just when we thought it was safe to enjoy suburban life again, Caruso reminds audiences just how weird and exciting the mundane can truly be. Who needs high concept pictures when every day life can be so terrifying?
– Joe Russo, MoviePulse