Disturbia review by Matt Fuerst


I still remember getting my first DVD Player. It was actually a great player and though it's passed into different hands it's still functioning well to this day. I got it probably Christmas of 1999, so that was a good while ago at this point. I very distinctly remember the DVD that my far-too kind parents got me with it, the obvious DVD Choice - The Matrix. Selecting the movie for your first time with a new movie technology is a difficult choice. You want something you know is going to wow you, a sure fire winner. I am sure movie geeks have been making these decisions for decades now... what's the first choice for your new $1000 Laserdisc player in the 1980's? I can imagine a movie geek laying down a fat $65 (1980's dollars) for a copy of Star Wars in Pan and Scan, but in CAV mode so you could pause with crystal clarity! So, as you've probably heard some new "High Definition" movie disc formats are out and available in the wild, those formats being Blu Ray and HD DVD. Being a movie nerd and a tech nerd, I've been interested in the new formats for quite some time. The pressures of time finally wore me down and I purchased a HD DVD player that connects to my XBox 360 and is available these days very inexpensively, and include 5 free HD DVD's with purchase. So, I was back in the drivers seat, what movie to watch first on my HD DVD Player? This is going to set the tone of my movie viewing experience for the years to come, this is a very delicate, geeky decision.

Well, my first experience is with the Shia LaBeouf vehicle, Disturbia. Our tale begins with Kyle (LaBeouf) and his father fly fishing in the great wilderness, doing the bonding thing. After a successful day fishing, father and son return home, but lives are permanently altered when a tragic car accident takes the life of Kyle's father. Kyle is left with the feelings of guilt as he finishes up his high school career living with his mother in his now lonely house. Approaching the 1 year anniversary of the death, Kyle ends up snapping in class, throws a beat down on his Spanish teacher and ends up being sentenced to a 3 month house arrest term. So there's our setup, teenaged boy locked in house for 3 months. Where to take that story? Well, our Disturbia storyline follows that of the classic Hitchock film, Rear Window. Kyle begins to notice a few disturbing oddities regarding his neighbor Mr. Turner.

Mr. Turner has a car very similar to that recently connected with a missing female in town, and seems to be interested in some rough nookie with the ladies he picks up and brings home. Disturbia updates the Rear Window voyeurism, going from Jimmy Stewart's telephoto lensed camera to remote wireless camcorders, but voyeurism is voyeurism in 2007 just like 1954. Kyle begins to see fall deeper and deeper despair, thinking something nefarious is afoot with Mr. Turner. Meanwhile, subplots are developing. Kyle just so happens to have a hotty new neighbor, Ashley (Sarah Roemer) move next door. Luckily for Kyle, he has some quality zoom lenses and Ashley likes to swim in tiny bathing suits. Kyle's best friend Ronnie (Aaron Yoo) is along for the ride serving two purposes - some light comic relief and as the footman for the house-imprisoned Kyle. The threesome set up shop in Kyle's upstairs bedroom, perched and watching the neighbors go about their life, and possibly Mr. Turner on a serial killing spree.

Hitchcock's masterpiece was more successful at keeping up the tension; Was Stewart's neighbor really a killer, or had his invalid condition led him into a delirium? It was quite amazing in that respect. Things are a lot more cut and dried here, almost distilled for today's audience, but the filmmakers still manage to keep the tension high. Maybe once we are thrown a bone that Kyle's boredom has led him to concoct a story, but really, everything really is a lot more straightforward in Disturbia. We arrive at our climax a little early, and the ending drags out a little long, since apparently a 2007 audience demands more action than a 1954 audience.

I've read some great reviews of Disturbia, many focusing on Shia LeBeouf's performance. I guess he does his job and hits all the numbers, but I wasn't ready to write him a letter of congratulations or anything. When required to be angry and melancholy he does so, and when required to be giddy and goofy for a girl, he's on the numbers as well. I guess that means job well done, but I don't think it's anything to join his fan club over. Maybe he was really bad in Holes and he's gotten better? The film is paced nicely, and really, standing on it's own (not compared with Hitchcock) I wouldn't have much of a reason to complain. I've seen worse thrillers, but fair or not, you can't help but wish a few tweaks had happened here and there at the script level. I would have rather have kept a lot more suspense, focused on some of the characters paranoia, or maybe, since they are teenagers, played around with their immaturity a little more. The action themed ending could have been trimmed down, but at the same time the tension heightened. Maybe some unrealistic expectations, but hey, I'm a reviewer, what else would you expect?

Disturbia looks good on HD DVD, but for me the jump wasn't the same as going from VHS to DVD. Now to be fair, I only have a set capable of 720p display resolutions, so I really am missing out on a lot of the capabilities of the HD DVD format. The main thing has been bugging me in the past year or so of DVD is when motion is on the screen, and some of the compression that is visible on the screen (the movie that specifically pushed me over the edge was Fincher's Zodiac, which had some parts that were real rough on DVD). I was never irritated watching Disturbia on HD DVD, and that's a very very good thing. I thought the finale was surprisingly dark, and while I know that was likely intention to heighten the suspense, you can't help but feel it's a cheap trick at times.

Disturbia is perfectly fine entertainment. You most likely won't despise it, but I doubt you will shut off the disc and call your best friend to watch it. It delivers a reasonable amount fun stuff in a sub-2 hour package. Sounds like the perfect 5 out of a possible 10 Jackasses movie to me.

5 out of 10 Jackasses
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