Disturbia - A D.J. Caruso Film

Just like the movie, I am going to jump right into my review. Disturbia hooked me from the beginning. Disturbia Director, D. J. Caruso set the tone of the movie with a brief introduction of an unusually together loving family with all the elements of normalcy. It begins with an annual father-son fishing trip. It is obvious that the main character Kale, played by Shia LaBeouf, and his father, played by Matt Craven, have a very close nurturing relationship. Tragedy, without notice, strikes and destroys.  The stunning chain reaction car accident is numbingly authentic and with it the instantaneous destruction of this family. The impact of the crash scene left me stunned.

The symbolic blackness, dead film space, that follows is obvious of the emotions suffered by those affected most by this tragedy. The next scene opens in a High School Spanish class on the eve of summer vacation. The now angry Kale, suffering from both adolescence and Post Traumatic Stress has him barely maintaining. A verbal altercation escalates when his teacher unsympathetically states, "What would your father think?" This statement drives Kale over the edge and he assaults him. Kale is arrested and sentenced to house arrest.

Kale, played by Shia LaBeouf, being harassed by his arch ememy, Officer Gutierrez.

The monitoring system associated with house arrest allows a limited radius of movement. Kale's house arrest and being 'spatially challenged' becomes gossip and the neighborhood kids play the oldest practical joke possible on him. With dog poop on his foot he chases the kids down the street outside his safe zone and is met with reality. And it bites! One-step out of the safe zone and the wearer is given a ten second return time. No return, the cops show. His arch-enemy is now a cop named Officer Gutierrez, the cousin of the teacher. At every infraction enemy cop shows. The mission of this cop is to make Kale's life hell and have him incarcerated.

The next fifteen minutes of the movie are typical of house arrest: Boring! The audience is left to watch an addict gorge on combinations of excessive sugar consumption that include dipping spoonfuls of chucky peanut butter in Hershey's chocolate syrup, building a Twinkies castle, one for me two for the castle,  and television and video overload. It is at the end of this sequence that he becomes obsessed with watching his neighbors and their predilections.

Kale goes sugar crazy and stir crazy as house arrest sets in.

The neighborhood has two sets of new neighbors: The beautiful Ashley, played by Sarah Roemer and the mysterious Mr. Turner, played by David Morse. The stalking at first revolves around male high school hobbies of watching the girl next door disrobe down to her bikini, watching the boys next door watching Girls Gone Wild tapes, and watching the neighbor's husband make it with the maid.

Kale then introduces his friend, Ronnie, played by Aaron Yoo, to the stalking art he has mastered. Just when they thought they were going to spend their summer stalking anonymously Ronnie falls into the glass with the binoculars announcing their presence. This expands their circle to three as Ashley knocks on the door and they begin their Nancy Drew and the Hardy Boys meets the MTV Generation adventure.

Kale and Ashley, played by Sarah Roemer, connect by spying on the neighbors.

Throughout the movie there are news reports of a missing woman. The single case in the area has developed into an investigation that has uncovered similar murders in other states. The audience is kept up-to-date on the developing story of a potential serial killer through the newspapers and news bites that are played as voice over and prop placement. The final details of the serial killer's victims are provided through a web search as the evidence begins to mount against Mr. Turner.

The caviler attitude of the adolescents as to the seriousness of the crime reflects a consistent MTV generational attitude that is obvious as Ashley becomes engrossed in the descriptions of the women previously murdered who had been 'twisted and jammed into the basement walls.' She exclaims, 'Narly!' and suggests the trio order pizza.

The spying takes an ugly turn when Mr. Turner is discovered to be at minimum a misogynist at worst the sociopath serial killer on the loose moving state to state leaving a trail of dead women. He does not broadcast mentally disturbed. Nor does he act in a fashion that is a red flag for criminal behavior and with the host of techniques used by the adult population for sexual arousal the sights witnessed by a clearly disturbed Kale is best described by a sexually mature Ashley, who states, 'maybe she likes to be chased around the house.'

Kale and Ashley witness murder.

The final piece of evidence that cements the Hardy Boys theory of a serial killer next door is at the end of the young lover's first argument that lands them on the bed kissing when a sudden noise causes Ashley to move to the window and see, through the binoculars, blood being splattered against a plastic tarp.

Kale and Ashley watch as their suspicions grow.

The tag line for the movie is, 'Every killer has to live next door to someone,' so by this point in the movie, it is clear that David Morse's character is the serial killer.  Most sociopath serial killers are so good at what they do that they get past even the most professional detection. This same type of expertise in style, manner, attitude and action are present in David Morse's character. He is so good at being a serial killer that the professionals, the Cops, fall for his 'I'm just a man who wants his privacy.'

Mr. Turner, played flawlessly by David Morse, deflects police attention, again.

Kale's house becomes command central with both friends utilizing their freedom to follow the neighbor outside Kale's court imposed boundaries. The viewer is left to wonder will the police see or will justice be blind to what is obvious. The implication is that the serial killer has been able to maintain a lifestyle that has not been detected or noticed through any of his actions. The symbolism associated with the relationships of both Kale, whose extenuating circumstances are never taken into consideration by the authorities as the source of the outbursts, and the serial killer who smoothly talks about the troubled adolescent who has endured such a terrible tragedy is symbolic of the system that overloads and overlooks.

Kale becomes consumed with his obsessions.

The movie escalates to a fevered pitch. There is no seen serial killer violence only the implications of a trophy serial killer with hundreds of victims that is obvious at the end. The violence against women is limited to implication and a single bloodless scene. There is no gratuitous violence. The violence maintains the story line that brings the movie to a conclusion.

Mr. Turner, knowing Kale is watching, prepares to murder his mother, played by Carrie Ann Moss.

A parallelism can be draw to Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window with the late James Stewart and Grace Kelly. I loved that movie. I would often sit weekends at a time and watch old Alfred Hitchcock movies. This is a modern version that does not suggest in any way to be a knock-off nor is credit given to the original idea and yet it has many similarities.

The movie is a thriller. It is suspenseful. It has heightened fright. It has all the elements associated with a good suspenseful and frightening movie. Depending on your tolerance level of horror flicks, mine is low, it is a mild to medium suspense thriller with brief heightened moments of anxiety.

Photos courtesy of IGN.com.

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