johnlink ranks DISTURBIA (2007)

This is the movie which put Shia LaBeouf on the map for me. I only knew him as some Disney kid, and I really didn’t have a ton of desire to see this. That, combined with the fact that it was an obvious REAR WINDOW rip off, and I was definitely ready to hate DISTURBIA when I first saw it years ago. Instead, I was surprised to find a well-spun and taught little thriller. I decided to give it a go once more to see if it was merely the beneficiary of low expectations, or perhaps, to see if it really is worthwhile.

I watched DISTURBIA (2007) on 12.4.11. It was my second viewing of the film.

This was written in the 90s, but sat on the shelf for years because Christopher Reeve did a modern remake of REAR WINDOW. It was interesting to find this piece of news, because this feels like an extremely well executed 90s thriller. Usually films of this nature, particularly teen films, are trite and unoriginal. This felt fresh, even if LaBeouf’s monologue felt straight out of script by a young writer influenced by GOOD WILL HUNTING.

It was fun to discover that Sarah Roemer plays the dream-girl-next-door. I liked her in the very subpar NBC series THE EVENT. She does some nice, if not nuanced, work in DISTURBIA.

Carrie-Anne Moss is mostly wasted as LaBeouf’s mother. But David Morse really is scary as shit in this flick. His performance, along with some tight direction and well timed music, makes this an extremely tense film at times. DISTURBIA contains some genuinely uncomfortable moments (like Morse confronting Roemer in her car) to better the more sophomoric jump-scares and reveals.

The device of the ankle bracelet is a nice update to the broken leg of Jimmy Stewart in REAR WINDOW. In the Hitchcock flick, Stewart had nowhere to go, it was claustrophobic and scary. In DISTURBIA, LaBeouf has a radius he cannot cross for more than ten seconds. This frees him up to do more than Stewart could. Stewart’s performance, and the writing of REAR WINDOW, were certainly (and necessarily) superior to the matching aspects of DISTURBIA. But for sheer fun factor, DISTURBIA absolutely wins.

Truly, this is a Hollywood product. LaBeouf, though on house arrest, is not a true delinquent. His father dies, and he lashes out at a teacher who uses his father’s death to insult him in class. The resulting assault charge ends with an ankle bracelet. But we all would have popped the teacher. Yes LaBeouf is sort of a brat, and he’s super immature (these early moments are well acted, believe it or not), but he is never dangerous or unlikable.

Despite this, and sometimes because of its lowered expectations, everything it wants to do, works. It certainly does not reinvent the suspense genre, but it does stand up as one of the best teen thrillers I can think of. It’s not even stupid enough to put on a guilty pleasure list. It’s just good, old fashioned entertainment.





~ by johnlink00 on December 4, 2011.

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