19 Jan 2009

Movie Review: Disturbia

While the build-up is superb in this homage to the Hitchcock classic, Rear Window, the movie descends into overblown slasher horror for its slightly disappointing climax. David Morse (perhaps best known as prison guard Brutus Howell in The Green Mile) has little more to do here than look sinister with a craggy face and slicked back hair, while fast-rising star Shia LeBeouf carries the entire movie on his young shoulders. He is a strange but watchable mix of James Stewart and Tom Cruise – a stuttering Everyman capable of springing into immediate action. A name to watch.

Modern technology features prominently throughout Disturbia. Whether it’s Xbox Live, the iPod, the mobile phone, the digital video camera, or the latest PC software, it serves the story without feeling too much like blatant product placement. In fact, one example is quite inspired. In Rear Window, James Stewart’s character, L.B. Jefferies finds himself housebound (well, in a wheelchair) following an accident. Disturbia’s creators came up with the modern equivalent for their troubled teenager – the house arrest ankle bracelet. It works brilliantly by confining LaBeouf’s character, Kale, to the family home and immediate surroundings while also allowing him full movement within that perimeter. It’s this kind of prop/idea that helps give the movie a fresh, contemporary gloss while also reminding the audience of its source material. Indeed, even as a massive fan of Rear Window I wasn’t offended by this movie. While not a shade on the Fifties classic, it’s good, solid entertainment with a working blend of thrills and laughter; a charming tribute with much to recommend it in its own right. As mentioned, the ending does let it down, and the movie probably couldn’t stand up to the scrutiny of the more fastidious viewer, but for simple, face-value entertainment, it ticks all the right boxes.


Danielle Ferries said...

Hey Steven, I absolutely love Rear Window (and most things Hitchcock) so couldn't wait to see Disturbia. I have to agree with you on the ending because while I thought the modernisation of the story was great, but I felt that some of the "atmosphere" of the original was missing, if that makes sense, and I couldn't help feeling let down when it finished. Shia LeBeouf was great though.

Brian G Ross said...

I just watched this one over the weekend, and I would probably agree with you on most points, except I actually thought that - with the emphasis on humour and the way the two teenagers made plans to get into the garden opposite - it more resembled the 'burbs than Rear Window.