Directed by D.J. Caruso
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Running Time: 104 mins
Audio: English 5.1 Dolby Digital EX, French, Spanish 5.1 DD EX
Subtitles: English, Spanish, French
Release Date: August 7, 2007
Review Date: July 25, 2007
Shia LaBeouf’s career is on a heck of a heater. After starring in the television series “Even Stevens,” and supporting roles in movies like “I, Robot” LaBeouf has graduated to starring roles in the current “Transformers” and this modern-update of the Hitchcock classic “Rear Window.” LaBeouf shines in “Disturbia,” a straightforward thriller that borrows liberally (in the academic world we call it plagiarism, the RIAA calls it copyright infringement) from the 1954 masterwork. While “Disturbia” isn’t particularly original, it is a competent thriller that featuring a solid cast and intense action, resulting in a thoroughly entertaining product.
LaBeouf plays Kale, a teen troubled after the loss of his father in a tragic automobile accident. Put on house arrest after assaulting a teacher, Kale loses his privileges to Internet, Xbox, and iTunes when he talks back to his mother. Left only with a digital camera and his doped-up best friend Ronnie (Aaron Yoo), Kale seeks to entertain himself by spying on his neighbors. Violating suburban privacy, the youth experiences the dark side of his seemingly pristine neighborhood. Trapped in his house and in his own mind, Kale develops imagined relationships, supposing motivations and events out of his purview. Hearing stories on the news about missing girls, and seeing his new neighbor Mr. Turner (played to creepy perfection by David Morse) acting suspiciously, Kale suspects his neighbor of being responsible for a sequence of serial murders. Teaming up with Ronnie and another new neighbor, the lovely Ashley (Sarah Roemer), Kale seeks to uncover the truth behind Turner’s odd behavior.
There is a lot going on in “Disturbia,” none of it original or deep. The thrills and story are predictable, but done so well that I honestly didn’t mind. Due in large part to the outstanding performances by LaBeouf and Morse, “Disturbia” entertains. I didn’t want to like “Disturbia,” feeling like it was a watered-down update of a classic film for the MTV generation. To an extent, that is what this film is. A lot of the tension is borne of fast editing and over-the-top music cues, but at its heart the film is an entertaining thriller. Not a classic, but well-made and tense, “Disturbia” is worth a viewing.
The lighting designs in the film are intentionally dark, causing problems on this standard definition 1.85:1 Anamorphic transfer. In particular fine details are obscured in the darker scenes, and the colors in brighter scenes flatten out, looking slightly off. It is not a bad transfer, mind you. For the most part it looks passable, with little if any problems with compression and no film artifacts; unsurprising for a modern film. Unimpressive but serviceable is the best way to describe this video transfer.
Unlike the video, I was impressed with the default 5.1 audio track. A few sparring audio effects come from the rear speakers to startle the audience, and to immerse us in the music track. Loud and strong, I have nothing but positive things to say about the track. Dialogue is clear, bass is resonant, and the various channels are used appropriately.
There are a goodly amount of extra features on this single-disc set, capped by a commentary track from the film’s young stars and director D.J. Caruso. The trio is very talkative (at least the two male participants) and impart a good discussion of film theory and breaking down the thought process behind the movie’s creation. Coupled with a comprehensive trivia track, everything you could want to know is covered.
There are four deleted scenes that expand the role played by Carrie-Ann Moss and her relationship with her son. It is one of the portions of the film I felt underdeveloped, and these four minutes would help round out the characters and their motivations. Similarly there are a group of outtakes that further show LaBeouf’s effusive charm.
A fourteen-minute featurette cleverly titled “The Making of Disturbia” is a fluffy EPK piece on the construction of the film. A lot of the information from the commentary is repeated here in a very academic, summary presentation.
The disc wraps with a music video for the song “Don’t Make Me Wait” by This World Fair, the film’s theatrical trailer, previews for forthcoming Paramount/Dreamworks products and a still photo gallery.
The more I think about “Disturbia,” the more I appreciate it, a perspective bolstered by the enthusiasm provided by the cast and crew. A decent thriller marked by excellent performances, “Disturbia” is certainly entertaining. A good quality DVD with some substantive extras and decent audio/video, I can easily recommend this package.