The Alternative Elite: Disturbia

In the heart of suburbia, nothing is quite as it seems. Behind the doors of the perfect homes, strange things happen. However, there’s probably nothing as strange as having a serial murderer for a neighbor. “Disturbia,” directed by the relatively unknown D.J. Caruso, takes this tried-and-true concept and creates the first box-office blockbuster of the season. After having his father die in a violent car accident, Kale (Shia LaBeouf) finds his world spinning out of control. His torment and rage lead him to hostility and aggression, and he ultimately assaults his Spanish teacher. Sentenced to three months of house arrest, Kale has nothing to do but to spy on his neighbors with a pair of binoculars. In addition to peeping on the attractive new-girl-on-the-block, Ashley (Sarah Roemer), his observations cause him to believe that his seemingly average neighbor, Mr. Turner (David Morse), is the psycho behind many brutal kidnappings and killings around the nation. Determined to figure out what is going on in the house next door, Kale and his friends begin to watch Mr. Turner 24/7, hoping to get into the mind of a killer. Nothing about “Disturbia” is really innovative. The entire plotline seems like one very familiar cliché. In fact, the film is just a huge, 21st-century remake of the classic Hitchcock thriller, “Rear Window” (1954). And yet, despite its worn concept, “Disturbia” still comes out to be a satisfying movie that most audiences will enjoy. One of “Disturbia’s” best qualities is that there is a little something for everyone to enjoy. Before putting a label on “Disturbia,” it is important to realize that it doesn’t stay true to just one genre. In fact, while there are horror/thriller elements, “Disturbia” still has house arrest romance and, of course, crude teen humor. “Disturbia” appeals to a large audience, which is why it has been number one in the box-office for the past three weeks. In addition to the please-all plot, “Disturbia” has a decent group of actors and actresses that keep the action fresh. I have to admit, when I first heard that Disney’s LaBeouf was starring in a Hollywood blockbuster, I was more than skeptical. However, he ended up proving that he can actually act. Playing the angst-filled teen perfectly, LaBeouf is an asset to the film’s success. Also worth mentioning is Morse’s skill at playing the creepy killer. Few people can pull off the part of a psychotic criminal well, but every time his character enters a scene, you can’t help but feel uncomfortable. Despite the good moments throughout the film, “Disturbia” definitely isn’t perfect. In fact, it seems the film is trying to accomplish too much. By pleasing everyone, “Disturbia” sometimes loses track of what it is supposed to be; an engaging thriller. While I do believe that you can create a good movie with many different genres, it must be done perfectly. “Disturbia” is able to do this fairly well, but there are times when the genres conflict. Sexual puns don’t blend well with gruesome killings, and therefore, should be kept in separate scenes. It almost seems as if these themes messily overlap, causing unnecessary confusion. Also, while “Disturbia” is entertaining, it lacks some sort of fresh twist. Everything in “Disturbia” has been used before. Scenes were obviously borrowed from classic thrillers such as “The Shining,” and by reusing the same, tired sequences, “Disturbia” feels a little stale. Despite the unoriginal plot, “Disturbia” is still entertaining, which, in the end, is a movie’s goal. Will “Disturbia” become a classic? No. Will the film win the Oscar for Best Picture? Never. Yet, it is a fun hour and a half that should be saved for a sleepy weekend. If you’re a huge fan of teen thrillers, grab a cab to the Loop and catch it before it’s out of theaters. Otherwise, just wait for the DVD. Besides, you’ve probably already seen something just like it. Grade: 4