104 minutes


• Commentary by DJ Caruso, Shia LaBeouf and Sarah Roemer
• The Making of Disturbia
• Pop-up trivia

• Deleted Scenes
• Outtakes
• Theatrical trailer

• Photo Gallery
• Music Video: This World Fair ‘Don’t Make Me Wait’

The Standard-def review.
The Blu-Ray review.

(Note: All screenshots are from the standard-def edition.)

The Pitch

Let’s re-do Rear Window with an urban legend angle for the suburbs, hopefully to push-start Shia LaBeouf’s mainstream career.

The Humans

Shia LaBeouf; Sarah Roemer; David Morse; Carrie-Ann Moss; Aaron Yoo; Matt Craven

The Nutshell

Junior recalcitrant Kale (LaBeouf) is saddled with three months of house arrest after popping his Spanish teacher. Naturally filling his bored days with voyeurism, he befriends the hot new next door neighbor (Sarah Roemer) and pisses off a possibly murderous homeowner (David Morse) who might be killing young ladies.

The Lowdown

OK, so Rear Window was a grade-A piece of post-war urban alienation. Here we are, bundled together in the city, a chicken in every pot, the Nazis are dead and Germany? Well, they’ll get their shit together. But wait a second, this city actually blows. Now that I’m looking at them, I don’t trust anyone, especially those who look the most traditionally sane.

Disturbia, as written by Christopher B Landon and Carl Ellsworth and directed by DJ Caruso, moves the action to the suburbs (the place with the big buildings is just called ‘The City’. I expected The Tick to arrive in act three) and replaces Hitchcock’s wry worldview with much more familiar surroundings and suppositions.

Margot Kidder: still lookin’ good!

All of which is a way of building up to this: Disturbia, as a script and a general piece of work, is utter tripe. It has nothing to offer that isn’t deliberately on the nose. It plays to titillate and loves the jump scare. The suspense is built with Hot Topic friendly splashes of blood and nearly gratuitous corpses, with a fake-out death thrown in for good measure. I first saw the film at the lovely Starlight Six in Atlanta, which makes perfect sense in hindsight; made 30 years ago, this would have been the drive-in version of Rear Window.

It’s redeemed by two things. One is the sleek skillset of DJ Caruso, who if unable to imbue the material with any real meaning, at least doesn’t get in the way of the cheap thrills. He sets up situations with a certain restrained elegance and frames scenes in a way that lets his actors play around more than is typical. You rarely see a director (and studio) with even vague confidence in a young cast, so Caruso’s approach is refreshing. Through that method, he also gets more comedy out of the script than most other people would achieve, which keeps the first hour moving.

That leads into the second redemption, which is Shi LaBeouf. We’ve seen the little guy blossom from not sinking a film (Constantine) to anchoring a pleasantly obvious chestnut (The Greatest Game Ever Played) and finally, here, turning a relatively unlikable guy into a compelling protagonist. As written, Kale is really a dick, and LaBeouf grafts enough nuance onto the entitled little shitheel that you can’t help but watch.

Because there’s only one way to take a call from Michael Bay.

I’m not saying he’s the new Jimmy Stewart, but L.B. Jeffries was kind of a twat as well, so LaBeouf is at the very least taking the right cues. And more than an update of the spirit of modern alienation, Disturbia is a new vision of geek cool, and with that in mind Shia floats this movie. If you didn’t see him make the boring and relatively unpalatable Transformers a passable experience, this might come as a surprise.

That said, I realized eventually that this movie is like an assignment note from the Mission Impossible team. It exists to prove that LeBouf can carry a flick, and as soon as you realize that it evaporates into smoke. And what if you’ve already seen Transformers? In that case, at least Sarah Roemer is eye candy with depth, David Morse is entertainingly, if obviously creepy and Carrie-Ann Moss…well, she looks like a mom which she probably won’t find very flattering. But it works perfectly for the film; after Shia, she’s the most credible cast member.

The Package

First off, one nice thing about the high definition discs is the lack of front-loaded trailers and other nonsense. The standard disc wades through commercials, while both HD versions go right for the feature.

Also notable for both formats is that the special features are in HD. To date, a lot of Blu-Ray and HD-DVD discs have foisted off special features in standard definition. Here, it’s really nice to have the outtakes, deleted scenes and making-of in HD, for the sake of consistency, if nothing else.

Compared to both the standard-def disc and the Blu-Ray, the HD seems to have a slightly greener cast and is a little bit more contrasty. The contrast works for the movie, while the very slight color cast does not. You can see less grain, but at the expense of some of the crispness of the Blu-Ray disc. I’d put this in between the standard def and the Blue-Ray for overall quality. And without giving any spoilers, there’s a point in the film at which having the high definition is really nice, as you can see more of the effects team’s work.

The commentary, by Caruso, LaBeouf and Roemer, spends a lot of time talking about mundane details and on-set anecdotes, but since there’s little else in the film to discuss, that’s not much of a surprise.

Alec Summers got old, started a network for women and hired cheap proofreaders.

‘Not a surprise’ is how I’d characterize the rest of the extras, which are fun but hardly a stretch from the basic DVD playbook. There’s a solid making-of and a collection of four deleted scenes. Neither part of the package will give you chills; the deleted scenes do give the story a more indie feel, which explains exactly why they hit the floor.

I enjoyed the collection of outtakes more than most, mostly for the shot of LaBeouf frenching a corpse. The package is also stuffed with some obvious stuff like a photo gallery, trailer and music video for one of the mall rock songs on the soundtrack: This World’s Fair’s ‘Don’t Make Me Wait’. Oh good, one less shitty video I have to look up on YouTube.

7 out of 10

Special guest director: Lucio Fulci!