Review: Disturbia

Posted by Peter Hall - August 19th 2007 @ 2:42 pm

Directed by D.J. Caruso, 2007
Written by Christopher B. Landon and Carl Ellsworth

Disturbia Poster

There is no reason to do a song and dance around what you and I both expect Disturbia to be.  It is an unofficial Rear Window with teenagers for teenagers directed by a guy who thinks he is a teenager, using two letter abbreviations for his name – and I never trust anyone who abbreviates their name, especially when a google search turns up no elaboration on the letters.  For more on why I do not trust these ‘people’, just read the names McG and Kaos and proceed to feel a phantom hurt somewhere in your soul.

But, expectations can be wrong and I am man enough to admit when such is the case.  I’ll even put aside my disdain for people who can’t use a real name as a testament to how much of a Disturbia fan I am.  It is a perfectly engineered PG-13 thriller that meets and exceeds all expectations of said label(s).

Despite the fact that he is taking over the box office world, whenever I try and recommend a movie with Shia LeBeouf, I am almost always met with groans of, "Oh, God, that guy!?"  A reaction I can’t understand.  I’ve been a fan of his since "Even Stevens" – yeah, I watch the Disney Channel, do something! – and was blown away by his turn in A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints.  He’s a teen actor who can pull weight adult counterparts struggle with.  He takes on the James Stewart imprisoned role of Kale, an average Joe Fourpack on house arrest for behavior following the death of his father in a superbly realistic car crash.  While his best friend Ronnie is on vacation, a bored Kale turns to spying on his neighbors.  Mainly scoping out the frequently bathing suit-clad Sarah Roemer playing Ashley, who eventually joins in on the voyeurism.  All while a murder mystery may or may not be playing out right next door.

Of course – and I’m not spoiling anything here, if you think otherwise you’re a fool – the neighbor is the killer.  The cinematic game isn’t whether or not there is truth to the teen’s suspicions, but at just what point is David Morse’s veil of suburbia going to fall away.  The build up to it is casual with cliches kept to a minimum.  Even though the thrills are almost all contained after Morse’s snap, Caruso keeps interest high with a mixture of minor detective work and simple cast charisma.  LaBeouf, Roemer (who is apparently older than I am, so don’t feel guilty about the pool scenes), and Aaron Yoo all have that wide-eyed screen innocence you’ve got to enjoy in a youthful movie like this. 

Disturbia is never, nor was it ever going to win any awards for originality, but that doesn’t mean the shipped product is without purchase.  Ellsworth and Landon’s script has a distinct goal in sight and Caruso knows exactly when and how to turn the reel.  The result is a pristine weekend entertainer.  Something you can watch with the lights on or off, with a crowd or by yourself and still get more than a few kicks out of.  Gore hounds will likely balk as they always do, fearing the popular PG-13 rating with the same logic as a homophobe, but that kind of predetermined aversion is only a crutch.  You’ll know whether or not Disturbia is something you’ll enjoy, just don’t cross it off your list solely because of its rating and the fact that it was one of the most successful box-office stories of the year.

There’s a reason for the success of Disturbia, both on a broad commercial scale and a personal one.  It’s the same reason Lunchables are so damned delicious.  If the answer to that riddle eludes you, you’ve never had a childhood, in which case you should be neither watching Disturbia nor eating Lunchables.  And if you think you’re too good to admit enjoying either, you’re a liar.

comments are closed
  1. Sean
    August 19th, 2007 | 10:31 pm | #1

    I actually liked this, despite being really dismayed by the fact that it’s a teenage alfred hitchcock movie.

    And that there aren’t nearly as many deaths as I would expect. Most of it seems to revolve around him being a weird kid locked in a house, but, other than those two qualms i had, I really enjoyed it.

  2. Ian
    August 19th, 2007 | 11:23 pm | #2

    take back what you said about j.j. abrams!(indirectly)

  3. August 20th, 2007 | 3:43 am | #3

    At least his letters stand for something.

  4. Brian
    August 20th, 2007 | 3:40 pm | #4

    C’mon, you gotta be excited about this guy doing Lost Boys 2:

  5. August 20th, 2007 | 4:19 pm | #5

    Oh, God, why!?

    The two-letter name should have died with D.J. on “Roseanne”.

  6. joe
    August 20th, 2007 | 5:38 pm | #6

    ahhh you just brought back such a memory

    on screen: “Directed by Kaos”
    friend next to me: “oh god, this movie is going to be awful”

    rat-tat-tat-tat-tat ahhhYEEEIIIIII!

  7. Sean
    August 21st, 2007 | 1:11 pm | #7

    What? A Lost Boys 2? This feels like it’s going to purge me of any joy I had watching the first.

    Have you seen Behind the Mask yet?

  8. August 21st, 2007 | 1:33 pm | #8

    No, not yet. I’m terrible. I bought it the day it came out and haven’t watched it yet.

    I do that a lot. Sit on movies I know are going to be good for no reason whatsoever. Terrible, I say.

  9. August 21st, 2007 | 5:02 pm | #9


    Die in a fire. That is all.

    Two letter name

  10. August 21st, 2007 | 5:48 pm | #10

    “Directed by Kaos”

    It’s a sad day when we have a director whose name sounds like something out of a multiplayer Halo server.

  11. Ian
    August 21st, 2007 | 5:55 pm | #11

    your new name is p.h.

  12. August 21st, 2007 | 7:43 pm | #12


    Die in a fire. That is all.

    Two letter name



  13. August 21st, 2007 | 7:52 pm | #13

    In all fairness, Kaos is actually short for Wych Kaosayananda. But someone still chose to market that name – whether it was him or not – and whoever that was is an incorrect human being.

  14. August 21st, 2007 | 10:08 pm | #14

    If you’re going to shorten it to Kaos, why stop there? Why not xXx~~Kaos~~xXX?

  15. August 22nd, 2007 | 12:46 pm | #15

    I think that must have been me sitting next to you Joe ’cause I know that’s exactly what I said when I saw that.

  16. shawn
    August 22nd, 2007 | 8:26 pm | #16

    I don’t know if I am the first to notice it or what but I love the new tagline at the top. I have the first three seasons of that show.

  17. August 22nd, 2007 | 8:33 pm | #17

    Yeah, you’re the first to comment on it, which kind of surprises me. If it ever comes into fruition, which won’t be for months, you’ll like the reason I put it up there. ;)

  18. Brian
    August 24th, 2007 | 7:41 am | #18

    Whatever, Goosebumps was way better.

  19. jayoh
    August 24th, 2007 | 9:17 am | #19

    AYAotD > Goosebumps. fool

    and yah chris(ripp), that was you now that i think about it

  20. T.J.
    August 24th, 2007 | 10:41 am | #20

    If you submitted this website to The Midnight Society, Snick would punch you in the face.

  21. Brian
    August 24th, 2007 | 10:43 am | #21

    Scroll down to the name of the Exec. Producer.

  22. August 24th, 2007 | 2:12 pm | #22


    It’s like a freakin’ plague…

  23. Ripp
    August 24th, 2007 | 8:00 pm | #23

    LOL! owned!

  24. Sean
    August 25th, 2007 | 6:40 pm | #24

    Hahah, I loved Are You Afraid of the Dark. It was better with the first guy with glasses, though. it was actually scary then.

    …but then, that could have been because I was 7 or 8.

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