If you're asking yourself what to see when you're in the mood for a thriller and a comedy, then you might just want to get in line for Disturbia. It's by no means spectacular filmmaking, but it is a movie that has everything you want in an enjoyable night at your local cineplex. In an age of YouTube, cell phone cameras, and reality television, Disturbia's Rear Window-esque storyline is properly adapted for the techno-savvy.
Shia LaBouf stars as Kale, an angst-ridden troublemaker who lands himself on house arrest for the summer. After his mother (Carrie-Anne Moss) strips him of all his creature comforts, Kale discovers "true reality television" while watching his neighbors through a handful of well-placed binoculars. The two most fascinating being the pretty girl next door, Ashley (newcomer Sarah Roemer), and the mysterious Mr. Turner (the ultra-creepy David Morse). After a series of freaky coincidences, Kale is convinced that Mr. Turner is a serial killer. With the help of Ashley, his best friend Ronnie (Aaron Yoo), and a host of cameras, cell phones, and the always needed Internet, Kale tries to uncover what's going on behind closed doors.
As is true of most teen thrillers, the script isn't what grabs you. It's the performances. Shia LaBouf has been compared to Tom Cruise by a few critics, but I'd rather not insult the guy. I'm going to compare him to John Cusack circa 1989. LaBouf's got the good looks, great onscreen charm, and above all, acting chops just like Cusack did (and still does). I loved him in Holes, and he was just as fun to watch in Disturbia. LaBouf plays the troubled teen equally as well as the empowered young man. He makes Kale into a likable character that garners cheers from the audience every step of the way.
Another impressive performance comes from David Morse, who, in my opinion, is one of the most underrated actors in Hollywood. Morse's Mr. Turner never stands a chance at being the nice guy next door. The eye twinkles, creepy little half smiles, and oh-so-Hannibal haircut spell trouble from the get go. I felt my skin crawl whenever he was on screen, whether it be mowing his lawn or flirting with Kale's mom.
And since we're on the subject of acting, I can't talk about Disturbia without mentioning Aaron Yoo. If Shia LaBouf is John Cusack, than Aaron Yoo is Jeremy Piven. Yoo's character Ronnie is not just funny, he's literally the comic relief in more than a few scenes. Granted, his brand of comedy is about half a degree from slapstick, but that doesn't matter. Whenever the tension runs high, Ronnie is always there to remind us that these guys aren't superheroes but just regular teenagers in a highly irregular situation.
Sadly, the ending gets wrapped up pretty neatly. Everything goes back to normal as if nothing spectacular just happened, but that's to be expected in a teen genre film. Also, the chemistry between LaBouf and Roemer is a tad forced, mostly due to her subpar acting. All that aside, Disturbia made me laugh out loud several times, cling to my seat, jump a little, and even peek through my fingers at a particularly disgusting part. In other words, I was far more entertained than I thought I'd be! So much so, I think I might see it again.