Review by Jack Foley
IN AMERICA, Disturbia was the film that turned actor Shia LaBeouf into a megastar, paving the way for the success of Transformers and a plumb role in Indiana Jones IV. Now that it’s finally arrived in the UK, it offers a chance for audiences to really discover what the fuss is all about.
LaBeouf is once again on great form in this contemporary take on Hitchcock’s Rear Window that offers thrills, chills, romance and laughter in spades.
He plays Kale, a troubled teenager still struggling to cope with the death of his father, who finds himself under house arrest with an electronic tag around his ankle after punching his Spanish teacher. When his mother (Carrie Anne-Moss) cuts off his videogame access, he turns to spying on his neighbours with the help of best friend Ronnie (Aaron Yoo).
Initially, their focus is firmly fixed upon the shapely figure of girl-next-door Ashley (Sarah Roemer) until she catches them in the act… and decides to play along. But things take a sinister turn when they begin to suspect that another neighbour (David Morse) may actually fit the profile of a killer in their midst.
Stripped down to basics, DJ Caruso’s film is a fairly blunt instrument in that it does exactly what you’d expect it to do within the confines of the genre. But while the story is familiar, the journey is immense fun, mixing savvy pop culture references with sly Hitchcockian nods and drawing on the talents of a very strong cast.
Early on, LaBeouf establishes Kale as a plucky, occasionally geeky but extremely amiable kid who is clearly struggling to hold things together, while his chemistry with both Yoo and Roemer is nicely realised (you can see why he was able to shine so brightly amid the special effects of Transformers).
But once things turn creepy, he’s equally good at mixing the fear and paranoia of his situation, with a gritty determination to save the day.
Morse, for his part, plays the possibly murderous neighbour to suitably creepy effect, despite being limited by a stereotypical script, and Moss is good as Kale’s mother despite limited screentime.
DJ Caruso capably mixes the romance with plenty of scares along the way to the big showdown when he loses control slightly with a contrived face off between the main protagonists. Had he exercised a little more restraint, the film could really have been something special – as things stand, it’s a capable crowdpleaser that’s fun to watch, if a little easy to forget.
The big reason for seeing it, however, is LaBeouf who exudes the star quality everyone’s been raving about. He really does have a bright future ahead of him.
Running time: 15