Rating 2

Directed by D J Caruso

Written by Christopher Landon and Carl Ellsworth from a story by Christopher Landon

Starring Shia LaBeouf, Sarah Roemer, Carrie-Anne Moss, David Morse and Aaron Yoo

“Take an Alfred Hitchcock classic, remix it for Generation YouTube and you’ve got Disturbia, a smart and involving thriller about the perils of voyeurism.”

So said Paul Arendt, reviewing the film for the BBC.

Teenager Kale Brecht (Shia LaBeouf) has trouble coming to terms with the death of his father in a freak automobile accident while he was driving. Following an incident at school he is charged with assault on a teacher and sentenced to three months house arrest.

When his mother (Carrie-Anne Moss) takes away his Xbox and other forms of electronic entertainment he resorts to spying on his neighbours with a pair of binoculars. He is mostly interested in Ashley Carlson (Sarah Roemer), the daughter of a new family who move in next door, but he also starts to become suspicious about another neighbour, Robert Turner (David Morse), who he thinks is somehow connected to the disappearance of a local young woman.

Together with Sarah and his best friend Ronnie (Aaron Yoo), Kale begins a dangerous game of cat and mouse with the sinister neighbour, trying to piece together evidence to prove his suspicions.

‘Disturbia’ is an up-dated teenage version of the classic 1954 Alfred Hitchcock thriller ‘Rear Window’. It is also clearly influenced by Joe Dante’s 1989 black comedy ‘The Burbs’, although this is not a comedy in any shape or form. It is also, I think, no match for either one of those films. It was written by Christopher Landon, the son of the actor Michael Landon, and Carl Ellsworth, whose previous credits include the Wes Craven thriller ‘Red Eye’.

The film was released to generally positive reviews, with particular praise reserved for the performance of Shia LaBeouf, who, at the age of twenty-one, has already won a number of acting awards and is being hotly tipped as one of the film stars of the future. His other film work includes ‘I Robot’, ‘Transformers’ and the soon-to-be-released ‘Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull’.

The film is well made and the acting is uniformly first rate, but it is so derivative and so obvious in its structure that there are no surprises and very little in the way of suspense. It has undeniable merit, but it never quite managed to engage me and I am rather surprised so many reviewers were so effusive about it.

I made the mistake of allowing the reviews to influence my expectations and as a result came away from the film with a sense of disappointment. However, it is a perfectly decent if decidedly unoriginal thriller.

The film had a $20 million production budget and grossed a little under $118 million at the box office worldwide. There are rumours of a sequel, which I cannot help but think is probably a bad idea.

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