Sunday, June 8, 2008



Disturbia is a blend of a teen movie and a murder mystery: A sort of Hitchcockian suspense thriller mixed disproportionately with stuff like ‘I Know what you did last Summer’. And though there’s not much of a mystery part, director D.J.Caruso tells us we ought to be content with the teenage voyeurism and the cheap thrills he manages to provide.

Kale Brecht (A refreshing Labeouf with a refreshing surname!), is a teen ‘disturbed’ by his father’s death right in front of his eyes, and gets sentenced to three months of house arrest as he punches his ignorant Spanish teacher right in his face at the slightest mention of his dad’s name. His mom (Anne-Moss) isn’t the least bit cared about the emotional turmoil of her son, nor is she perturbed by her husband’s death, for she unceremoniously cancels young Kale’s access to the TV and his X-Box, and is happy enough to date an apparently decent Mr.Turner (Morse). Though she grounds the boy, she doesn't care to leave behind a pair of powerful binoculars, a videocamera, and his iPod: Items of utility not only to Kale, but to the movie’s writers Chris Landon and Carl Ellsworth as well!

Jobless and on the verge of becoming a couch-potato sans a TV set, Kale discovers that the binoculars can be used to look at the world outside, particularly at his gorgeous new neighbour Ashley (Roemer), who appears to do nothing except capture his eye, through yoga, swimming and some substantial display of her perfect figure. Although Kale, with the company of his friend Ronald (Aaron Yoo), drools at Ashley most of the time, he still manages to spare some for his other neighbours, particularly an eerie old man in the form of Mr.Turner, who comes out for nothing except lawn-mowing. After some really funny sequences involving a couple of kids next-door and a cheap-thriller of a sequence involving the ‘vicious’ Mr.Turner, the story begins along with news reports about a series of kidnappings of brunette women. With the help of an informative news bulletin that describes a black Mustang with a dented front, Caruso, in the form of Kale, literally pins it upon Mr.Turner without any botheration to introduce secondary suspects, or add twists to the tale: A deed which tells you clearly that this is no murder 'mystery' you're watching. It's a teen-flick and nothing more. Nonetheless, a sequence of events with some delightful use of technology follows with the movie’s writers justifying the use of every object planted and predisposed in previous sequences by them, and the movie finishes off in a quite intense climax preceded by screams and tantrums.

Disturbia is a teen movie beyond doubt, and it poses to be no other thing except for its DVD covers and an interesting tagline. Looking through Kale’s binoculars tingle the voyeur in you, especially when your target lives in a house with see-through glass windows and spends most of her time in the pool or her roof – distinctly visible places. You're treated with nothing but teeny romance, and eventhough it is quite romantic as Kale narrates to an if-you’re-not-gonna-tell-me-your-iPod-is-history-along-with-60GB-of-your-life Ashley who’s already been instructed previously that the very next moment, she ought to kiss Labeouf in a one-minute sequence, after waiting for him to say what he saw of her. And Kale's a liar, because even a he looks mischievous enough for a moment to tell her that all that he saw was her red and blue bikinis and part of what lies beneath, he changes plans (apparently before quite some time!), as he drags along about how he deduced that she’s an inquisitive person who ogles at the mirror before she goes out everyday, which is not an "'I’m so sexy' look, but one that asks ‘Who am I?’”: A long monologue by Labeouf that provokes Ashley to tell him “That’s either the creepiest, or the sweetest thing I’ve ever heard…”. Calling all teens out there: Next time you get caught shooting a glance at your gorgeous neighbour, tell her that all you saw, was her trying to 'understand' the world around her. You'll be cleared of all peeping charges and plus, you'll get a good, long kiss. A dream no doubt!

Shia Labeouf pulls out a neat performance as the expressive Kale, and eventhough he hardly looks disturbed in the movie, he’s quite fun all the same. Aaron Yoo is quite fun too, and so is Sarah Roemer as the ever-bikini-clad Ashley. But serial killing isn’t meant to be a fun-ride that can be cracked by three fun-loving kids, with one of them getting the real necessity only in the last five minutes as his mom’s set to become a victim. Enid blyton never made killers part of her plot in her sleuth-stories: It was always thieves or kidnappers. Maybe something to learn for the writers of Disturbia. Carrie Anne-Moss has nothing to do except show-up in intervals of 15 minutes, with the last three minutes being the longest time she shows herself continuously. David Morse tries to exploit his Anthony Hopkins-like looks along with some skills borrowed from the man, as he eventually manages to scare you in a couple of sequences.

Whatever it may show to be, Disturbia is the usual Hollywood commercial sleuth-flick with good looking leads and goofy sidekicks. But Mr.Caruso ought to learn from ‘Zodiac’ that serial-killing ain’t fun-business...

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