Disturbia: The First Great Thriller of 2007
by Alex Billington
April 12, 2007
I'm not a big horror or thriller fan, but sometimes an incredible film comes along that I really enjoy, and it makes me rethink my opinions of these two genres. I wasn't sure how thrilling Disturbia would be, but I was confident that it would be solid from the trailers alone. Even so, Disturbia surprised and thrilled me beyond expectations and delivered one of my favorite films of 2007 so far. It is the first great thriller of 2007.
In Disturbia, which is clearly inspired by Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window, Kale (Shia LaBeouf) unexpectedly loses his father in an automobile accident. A year later in his Spanish class, Kale hits his teacher in the face and is sentenced to three months over the summer of house arrest. The typically quirky and outgoing teen must learn to cope with staying on his own property without his Xbox or television - his caring mother (Carrie-Anne Moss) took them away. After overcoming boredom, he begins to scope the neighborhood armed with binoculars and video cameras in his room and the top floor of his house, and while simultaneously checking out his attractive new neighbor Ashley (Sarah Roemer) he also starts to believe one neighbor just might be a serial killer.
The strength of Disturbia is its down-to-earth humor and well-conveyed atmosphere of his constrained life that builds up to the thrills. Most of the film builds up the quirky meanderings of a kid stuck in his home for an entire summer and isn't spent thrilling you every other moment. It's Shia LaBeouf that plays the role of Kale so well that you can almost feel the same as him, laughing louder and smiling more when he gets caught staring at Ashley or as he devises crazy schemes to pass the time and hit on her. Even the story itself, the lead up to the reveal and the progression of the characters is stronger than every other mundane and typical thriller. And when it finally gets to it, the film gears up into a full on thriller and still delivers.
Among the great cast, Aaron Yoo stands out as Kale's wacky friend Ronnie who often joins him at his house and assists in the pursuit of love and entertainment. His comedy is so natural in all of the scenes and he hits hard with the biggest laughs. Ronnie is the best friend that every kid has had. There's also the incredibly attractive Sarah Roemer who stands out strongly enough to make me want to go back and watch it again and again just for her deceptive teases. The supporting adults, Carrie-Anne Moss and David Morse, also deliver well. David Morse is an experienced actor, but I just wasn't wholly convinced at his character's nature, which will only get revealed when you see it.
Our other writer Jaq described a thriller best in a roller coaster analogy (second paragraph down) that was dead-on in its portrayal of the prototypical thriller's plot. As I read every word of what Jaq wrote, I realized that's exactly what Disturbia did itself. It's just as disturbing and thrilling as it is fun and exciting. The trio of Shia LaBeouf, Aaron Yoo, and Sarah Roemer are a vibrant and wonderful combination on screen, and its these young actors that really make Disturbia such a fantastic movie to kick off this summer.
I can't say I agree with this review. Granted, I'm in my thirties, so maybe this film played too young. However, I will say that the opening was incredible. I really didn't see that coming. I thought to myself: wow, this is going to be a cool movie. Unfortunately, for me, the movie went downhill from there. Unless you avoided the posters or trailers, everyone knew there was a killer next door, and it took half the movie to finally introduce that part of the plot. And when we finally see the killer, he's an idiot and his actions so unbelievable it made it hard to stay interested. I mean, attacking the mother after the police already left and the suspicion was gone? That was the clincher. As a pure teen flick, I actually thought this film would have been better had there not been a killer next door. Then we could have had a contemporary "Breakfast Club" or "Suburbia" without all the ridiculous 'thriller' elements. Anyway, my 2 cents. The film still has legs, so obviously it's striking a cord with its target audience.
Dan on May 14, 2007
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