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Laramie Movie Scope: Disturbia

A fresh new look out the 'Rear Window'

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by Robert Roten, Film Critic
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July 24, 2007 -- “Disturbia” is an effective modern updating of the old Alfred Hitchcock film, “Rear Window.” Instead of a middle-aged guy with a broken leg, we have a teenager in trouble with the law confined to his house by a police ankle bracelet. Deprived of television, video games and other electronic amusements, the teen, Kale (played by Shia LaBeouf of “Constantine”) starts to pay attention to what is going on in his neighborhood. Aided by binoculars, he spots an illicit romance across the street, and suspicious activity at a neighbor's house.

The mysterious neighbor, Mr. Turner (David Morse of “16 Blocks”) has a car which resembles one described in a police alert about a serial killer. When Kale sees a woman in panic at Turner's house, he begins to suspect that Turner might be a killer. Aided by his next-door neighbor, the lovely Ashley (Sarah Roemer of “The Grudge 2”) and his best friend, Ronnie (Aaron Yoo) the trio set off to find out if Turner is a serial killer. They will get no help from the police, who, responding to earlier calls by Kale, have found nothing incriminating on Turner's property. Kale has cried wolf too many times to be taken seriously. Turner doesn't just sit back and wait for his secrets to be discovered. He takes the offensive and gets right in Kale's face, trying to intimidate him.

Shia LaBeouf, one of Hollywood's finest young actors, carries this film easily and Morse is very effective as the smooth, smart, menacing neighbor. Roemer and Yoo are also good, as is Carrie-Anne Moss of the “Matrix” movies, who plays Kale's mother, Julie. The film is capably directed by D.J. Caruso (“Taking Lives”). Suspense builds slowly, but the onset of violence is sudden.

The screenplay by Carl Ellsworth (“Red Eye”) has a nice feel for both its teenage and adult characters. The script also gives us more rounded characters with more depth than one usually finds in a Hollywood thriller. The dialogue is often witty and clever. The unusually detailed back story gives us a good explanation of why Kale behaves in the way he does, and why he got into trouble with the law. There is also an interesting relationship between Kale and one of the local police officers. This script pays a lot more attention to details like this than do the sloppy screenplays one is accustomed to seeing in recent Hollywood films. This is a polished, well-crafted film with a strong cast and a good story. This is a worthy successor to “Rear Window.” It rates a B.

Click here for links to places to buy or rent this movie in video and/or DVD format, or to buy the soundtrack, posters, books, even used videos, games, electronics and lots of other stuff. I suggest you shop at least two of these places before buying anything. Prices seem to vary continuously. For more information on this film, click on this link to The Internet Movie Database. Type in the name of the movie in the search box and press enter. You will be able to find background information on the film, the actors, and links to much more information.

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Copyright © 2007 Robert Roten. All rights reserved.
Reproduced with the permission of the copyright holder.
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Robert Roten can be reached via e-mail at my last name at lariat dot org. [Mailer button: image of letter and envelope]

(If you e-mail me with a question about this or any other movie or review, please mention the name of the movie you are asking the question about, otherwise I may have no way of knowing which film you are referring to)