On the Big Board
|Competent performances from the teen actors made this film surprisingly likable.
|Is pretty fun, with some thrilling moments, and LaBeouf is bound to be a big star. That said, it was absolutely sacrilegious to remake Rear Window.
|Functional thriller but nothing special.
|There are some good thrills here, and a surprisingly heavy opening sequence. Casting alert: Sarah Roemer and Samaire Armstrong could play siblings.
Disturbia is a thriller aimed directly at teens and college kids, but some very interesting elements could make this movie into at least a minor hit. The storyline is fairly straightforward: a wayward, disaffected young man under house arrest in a very typical suburban enclave spies on his neighbors and begins to suspect that one of them is a serial killer. Think of it as Rear Window for Final Destination fans, which might make Hitchcock fans cringe a bit. The people involved with the film raise some interesting prospects, but the director - D.J. Caruso - presents a glaringly huge question mark.
Carl Ellsworth and Christopher Landon wrote the script, which has nothing to do with Christopher Fowler's book of the same name. Ellsworth gained considerable notice for penning Red Eye and has proven a deft hand for psychological thrillers. He's also written episodes for Buffy the Vampire Slayer ("Halloween" from 1997) and Xena: Warrior Princess ("Looking Death in the Eye" from 2000). Landon wrote the often-forgotten film Another Day in Paradise (starring James Woods and Melanie Griffith), and a short film titled "$30," which appeared in the compilation Boys Life 3, about a closeted gay teen who is offered the services of a prostitute on his 16th birthday. Obviously, these guys have a deep well of imagination to draw on.
The producers (Jackie Marcus, Joe Medjuck, and Tom Pollock) previously teamed up for EuroTrip, but Steven Spielberg (!!), Ivan Reitman, and E. Bennett Walsh are credited as executive producers.
D.J. Caruso directs the movie, coming off a somewhat surprisingly disappointing film from two years ago, Two for the Money. That film starred Al Pacino and Matthew McConaughey along with Rene Russo, Armand Assante, and Jeremy Piven. Caruso unfortunatey took a great script and turned it into a rambling mess of a movie. However, he's directed some truly excellent television episodes for vastly different series, including Smallville ("Shimmer" from 2001), Over There, Dark Angel, and four fantastic episodes of The Shield. Maybe he just has trouble with story arcs lasting more than 44 minutes.
The cast brings a good mix of talent and experience to the film. Shia LaBeouf stars as the troubled young man under house arrest. Recently confirmed as playing Indiana Jones Jr. in the upcoming fourth installment of that franchise, he's previously demonstrated solid (and at times, inspired) acting skills in I, Robot; Constantine; and A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints. Carrie-Anne Moss answers the prayers of MILF afficianados everywhere by playing his mother. And David Morse portrays the suspected serial killer. He seems to be another wild card in this film (in addition to Caruso). After some hit and miss roles in a number of movies over the years, he recently returned to TV as Detective Michael Tritter on the series House M.D., a role he excelled in.
Overall, Disturbia has a solid cast, the attentions of experienced producers, a potentially excellent script ... and a big question mark for a director. Let's hope for the best. (Joel Corcoran/BOP)