Disturbia (HD-DVD) Studio: Dreamworks Home Video Rated: PG13 (For sequences of terror and violence and some sensuality) Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1 HD Encoding: 1080p HD Video Codec: MPEG-4 AVC Audio: English, French, Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 5.1EX, English DTS ES 6.1 Subtitles: English, French, Spanish, Portuguese; English SDH Time: 104 minutes Disc Format: 1 SS/DL HD-DVD Case Style: Keep case Theatrical Release Date:2007 HD-DVD Release Date: August 7, 2007 Kale Brecht (Shia LaBeouf) and his father are enjoying a good fishing trip, but on their way home, Kale takes his eyes off the road for a second and plows into a parked car. Their SUV rolls and is subsequently hit by another vehicle, which winds up killing Kale’s dad. Jump to a year later and Kale decks his insensitive Spanish teacher to make his third juvie felony. The judge orders Kale to serve a 90 day sentence on house arrest, where he wears an ankle monitor which signals the police if he strays further than 100 feet from his house. Kale is an impetuous lad who quickly bores of TV, and his mother (Carrie Ann Moss) needs him to do more constructive things with his time instead of playing X-Box or downloading music from I-Tunes. Kale’s boredom manifests itself in spying on the neighbors, including the cute new girl next door, Ashley (Sarah Roemer) and Mr. Turner (David Morse), who may be hiding a dangerous secret. The TV news programs keep informing Kale of a string of killings in his area, and Turner’s car fits what the witnesses have seen. Kale enlists the help of his friend, Ronnie (Aaron Woo) to do covert missions into Turners vehicle and garage. Ashley becomes intrigued by her homebound neighbor, so her attraction to Kale brings her into the paranoia displayed by him. As the signs continue to point to Turner as the killer, Kale, Ronnie and Ashley find their possibly misplaced paranoia may get themselves and others killed. D.J. Caruso directs this thriller borrowing liberally from much better pictures such as Rear Window, Psycho, The Silence of the Lambs and The Shining. I couldn’t help but think of these pictures because Disturbia really never provides anything new or better that the older ones had already done. Through each of the scenes in Disturbia I felt that I was always one step ahead of Kale knowing what was going to happen next. While there are a couple of tension filled scenes, anyone with a minor interest in Hitchcock will pick apart this story pretty quick. The casting of David Morse as Turner also clues us in on his characters creepiness as Morse seems very well suited to these types of roles. The use of technology in the story (cell phones, Mac’s, IPOD’s, digital video) appeals to today’s teens, but Caruso was kind enough to not go the same route as his cinematic contemporaries in making this all about the blood and guts. Somewhere, I’m sure Hitchcock is saying, “Nice try.” LaBeouf does a good job in this, and having seen him in Transformers a couple weeks ago, I’m hoping he’ll soon break out of his hyper-teen phase to give us performances with a little more depth. Steven Spielberg has declared his fondness for LaBeouf in both of these pictures, and he’s also cast him in the upcoming Indiana Jones picture; that’s not a recommendation to be taken lightly. After seeing him in these two pictures you can see the potential is there provided he’s guided in the right direction. Video: Note: I am watching this title using a Marantz VP 12-S4 DLP projector, which has a native resolution of 720p. I am using a Toshiba HD-A1 for a player and utilizing the HDMI capabilities of both units. The picture is correctly framed at 1.85:1, and it is encoded in MPEG-4 AVC at 1080p. As with most pictures of very recent vintage, this is a flawless picture, free of any dirt, debris or even video noise. The picture tends to be soft but this is acceptable for the setting, providing some atmosphere to the enclosed spaces of the houses. Color reproduction is slightly de-saturated while still looking real and natural; this is specifically noticed in the flesh tones. Black levels are fair, but they looked more like a deep gray than black. Detail was still seen in the shadows, but you have to look for it. In the lighter scenes, detail is much better. There is a scene where there is a close up of Kale’s cell phone screen and you can see just how sharp and detailed HD can be. For a film that relies on shadows and ambient light, I wish it was slightly darker. Detail is good even in the background items. There was no edge enhancement noticed. Audio: The Dolby Digital Plus soundtrack was attained by a 5.1 analog connection. I watched the disc with the Dolby Digital Plus 5.1 EX track engaged. The soundtrack is crisp and clear and free of any distortion. Surrounds are used to provide atmospheric effects and when used they produce a good surround field owing to the EX enhancement. This mix helps to heighten the tension of the story, and it drew me into the story enough where I had to go back to listen to certain scenes more critically, and this is just what a soundtrack should do! Music cues sounded natural and mixed in well with the dialogue. Bass effects are very good and blend well with the mains. ADR is noticeable in places. The DTS track tonally sounds thinner than the DD+ track, but it has even more presence and ambience. When I compared the two tracks side by side, the DD+ track seems to localize the sound effects just a little more than the DTS track, which I didn’t notice until the comparison. Bass melds in similarly on this track, but the bass in the DTS track has a little more power behind it. The DTS track is noticeably louder. It’s kind of a toss up between the two in terms of quality. Bonus Material: With the advent of HD-DVD, we are faced with several different audio and video codecs being used on each disc. Due to this, I have begun adding the encoding details as part of the explanation of bonus features when applicable and relevant. For this release, the extras are in MPEG-4 AVC encoding with Dolby Digital Plus unless otherwise noted. Commentary by Director D.J. Caruso and Cast Members Shia LaBeouf and Sarah Roemer: If you ever get the chance to do a commentary for a feature film, make sure you turn off your cell phone, or at least, don’t answer it while the tape is running as Caruso does. The trio has a good time on the commentary and LaBeouf swears quite a few times. Nothing is too in depth here. The Making of Disturbia (14:51): Caruso claims he was trying to make a John Hughes type of teen flick in a voyeuristic setting. Huh, ok. The cast and crew comment on the story’s voyeuristic and technological themes set next to human behavior. The doc has mostly behind the scenes footage. Four Deleted Scenes (4:05): These scenes only seek to reinforce what was already present in the picture. There are two with Kale and his mom, one with him and Ronnie and an expanded scene with his mom. Serial Pursuit Trivia Pop-Up/ Quiz: Throughout the picture you can have pop-ups asking you trivia questions about serial killers, nature, technology and more. There are also some informational pop-ups, such as in one scene, Sarah Roemer wore her own jeans! Outtakes and Bloopers (1:27): a very quick set of behind the scenes shenanigans and bloopers, which aren’t that funny. Music Video: Don’t Make Me Wait – This World Fair (4:06) Photo Gallery: behind the scenes and promo shots. Theatrical Trailer Conclusions: Disturbia is aimed at the teen market to make them jump without overloading them with too much gore. If your teen is hip on seeing this picture, make sure they go. When they come home, make them sit down and watch all the films that it owes a great debt to. The HD-DVD is a fairly good disc in the AV department, but lacking in too many extra features.