While a teenage take on the "Rear Window" plot didn't sound particularly promising, I was interested to see what DJ Caruso - whose bizarre "Salton Sea" and slick "Two For the Money" were both flawed, but promising - would do with it. The movie starts off with Kale (LaBeouf) and his father on a fishing trip in the mountains. However, on the ride back, their car gets into an accident in a scene that's swift and disturbing.
The next we see Kale, he's a sullen, troubled student who sits in the back of his class. When his Spanish teacher confronts him, Kale decks him and is sentenced to three months of house arrest. Although three months of house arrest intially means endless hours of XBOX Live, it's not long before his mother ends XBOX Live.
Stuck in the house with nothing to do but chores, he eventually starts looking out at his neighbors, including a beautiful new neighbor named Ashley (Sarah Roehmer). While Ashley's introduction to Kale isn't exactly optimal - she sees him being cuffed and lead away after he violated house arrest by chasing a couple of neighborhood kids who left a bag of flaming poop on his porch - he somehow manages to charm her into coming over to hang out.
Before long, he lets her in on his spying activities, which include starting out at a neighbor having an affair with his maid. There's also creepy neighbor Robert Turner (David Morse), who Kale begins to think is somehow connected with a series of deaths in the area. Kale believes that Turner's car matches the description of the vehicle associated with the goings on in the area and he sees what could be some very suspicious goings-on across the street.
It becomes apparent that the creepy Turner is on to the surveillance early on and the movie becomes increasingly more tense as both sides try to figure out what must be done about the other. The problem is that Kale doesn't have enough to make a case, but the audience can see where the signs are pointing to fairly early on.
The film may be a bit predictable, but while it takes a little while for Caruso to up the tension, when the film does get going, it manages to quickly amp up the tension considerably, with some nailbiter moments as Kale's friend, Ronnie (Aaron Yoo) acts as spy and nearly gets caught. The film does turn a tad generic towards the close, but it's still tense due to solid performances (Morse is genuinely creepy and this is the most straightforward and engaging LeBouf has been - in my opinion) and Caruso's taking advantage of the claustrophobic settings.
Overall, I didn't find this to be a particularly original thriller (despite strong similarities to "Rear Window", it's not credited), but the performances were solid and scenes were constructed well. Additionally, despite the PG-13 rating, the movie remains quite tense once it really gets going in the second half.
VIDEO: "Disturbia" is presented by Paramount Home Entertainment in 1.85:1 anamorphic widescreen. While this wasn't one of the best presentations of a theatrical release recently from the studio, it was not particularly flawed, either. Sharpness and detail weren't exceptional, but the picture at least looked crisp and detailed throughout the picture. Flaws included some mild edge enhancement in a handful of scenes. Colors generally appeared natural and accurate, with nice saturation and no smearing or other concerns.
SOUND: The film's Dolby Digital 5.1-EX soundtrack provides an entertaining presentation that uses the surrounds pretty effectively when the situation calls for it. Stretches of the film have the audio remaining front-heavy, but the most intense scenes do use the surrounds for effects and creepy ambience. Audio quality is fine, with crisp dialogue.
EXTRAS: Director DJ Caruso joins actors Sarah Roehmer for an audio commentary for the film. The commentary is quite enjoyable, as the trio have a fun time chatting about working on the film, offer stories from the set and chat about their favorite scenes. It's not a hugely informative commentary, but it's a breezy listen. We also get a "making of" featurette, a few deleted scenes, "pop-up quiz", outtakes, music video, stills and promos for other titles from the studio.
Final Thoughts: Overall, I didn't find this to be a particularly original thriller, but the performances were solid and scenes were constructed well. Additionally, despite the PG-13 rating, the movie remains quite tense once it really gets going in the second half. The DVD presentation offers fine audio/video quality and a solid set of extras.
The Film B-