[box cover]

Disturbia

Considering the sophisticated and adult tone of Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window (1954), it doesn't make any sense that a teen version would work on any level at all. Surprisingly, Disturbia (2007) manages to remake the classic thriller in a manner that's pretty smart by modern Hollywood standards, and it doesn't mangle the original premise too badly. Instead of Jimmy Stewart as an apartment-bound photographer with his leg in a cast, we have Shia LaBeouf as Kale, a teenager who's stuck in his suburban home wearing a court-ordered ankle bracelet because he punched a teacher. Since he's undergoing punishment, Kale's mom (Carrie-Anne Moss) cancels his iTunes account and takes away his video games, so he has little to do for entertainment besides look out the windows. Two people become the prime targets of his snooping — a cute new girl-next-door (Sarah Roemer) and a creepy neighbor (David Morse, who seems to own this particular character niche) whose car matches the description of one used in a recent abduction. If you've seen Rear Window, you already know everything that's going to happen, but director D.J. Caruso (The Salton Sea, TV's "The Shield") wrings some genuine suspense out of it anyway. LaBeouf is a serviceable actor and, while there's not a lot to challenge him here, he plays horny teenage sincerity well enough to keep the story going along at a nice clip. Kale's best friend Ronnie (Aaron Yoo) is given far too many sardonic asides that sound nothing like anything an actual teenager would ever say, which almost works simply because Yoo's as personable as LaBeouf — but, oh man, is his dialogue ever awful. The oddest thing about the entire picture is the lack of any hint that the actors and filmmakers know they're remaking a classic film — there's no homages to the original, no knowing winks (like, say, a Hitchcock poster on a wall or throwaway line of dialogue) to indicate that Caruso and screenwriters Christopher B. Landon and Carl Ellsworth are rethinking an existing film. Did they think that the target audience is so young, that nobody would notice? Despite this, Disturbia is an unexpected pleasure — a teen-centric film that isn't dumbed down, with a deft approach to suspense.

Paramount/DreamWorks' DVD release of Disturbia features a very good anamorphic transfer (1.85:1) that offers strong colors and contrast, although the blacks get a bit murky in some of the darker scenes, obscuring detail. The DD 5.1 audio (English, Spanish or French, with subtitles in those three languages) is very strong, using all of the channels nicely and showcasing Geoff Zanelli's very Bernard Herrmann-esque score beautifully. The package comes with a small selection of extras, starting with an uneven commentary track by Caruso, LaBeouf, and Roemer that's alternately funny, dry, irritating and enlightening depending on the scene in front of them. There's also an optional pop-up trivia feature, four uninteresting deleted scenes (4 min.), a standard promotional "making-of" featurette (15 min.), and a short collection of outtakes (1 min.) Also on board is a music video for the song "Don't Make Me Wait" by The World Fair, a stills gallery, and the theatrical trailer. Keep-case.
—Dawn Taylor



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