Welcome to “Disturbia”; an upper middle-class collective of shingled houses, well-manicured lawns, and picket fences, so deceptive in their harmonious nature that, upon first glance, one would think they’d taken a wrong turn into a Norman Rockwell painting. However, upon closer inspection, the façade crumbles, revealing sordid affairs, domestic upheaval, or, if you live in Kale Brecht’s (Shia LaBeouf) neck of the woods, something far more sinister.
Ever since the accidental death of his father – something Kale still blames himself for – life has been hard. Kale’s grief has manifested itself in anger, and, when he takes his rage out on one of his teachers, Kale is fitted with a monitoring bracelet, and sentenced to home confinement. At first, he has no problem with being a prisoner in his own home; after all, he’s got the internet, his X-Box, and cable TV to keep him busy. However, when Julie (Carrie-Anne Moss) decides that her son’s punishment isn’t severe enough, she takes his “toys” away, and forces Kale to look for entertainment elsewhere.
Soon, Kale turns his attention to the outside world, watching his neighbors live their lives, and pining for the day he’ll be free to join them. As Kale finds himself drawn deeper into the world of voyeurism, helped along by the sight of Ashley (Sarah Roemer), the lovely new girl next door, he begins to memorize the routines of the denizens of “Disturbia”. From the man across the street’s afternoon rendezvous with his cleaning lady to Ashley’s yoga sessions, Kale has his neighborhood’s routines down pat, and introduces his friend, Ronnie (Aaron Yoo), to his new obsession. Eventually, Ashley catches Ronnie and Kale watching her, but, instead of being angry about it, she, too, finds herself fascinated by Kale’s hobby – especially his latest subject, the creepy Mr. Turner (David Morse).
Kale has been playfully entertaining the idea that Turner is the man responsible for the disappearance of a local woman, as his vehicle matches that of an eyewitness’s description. At first it seems as though Kale’s obsession with Turner is a way to interject some dark drama into the neighborhood’s otherwise pedestrian routines, and, seeing as how Ashley seems to enjoy the “thrill” of watching Turner, Kale has no problem keeping up the ruse. However, when Kale witnesses what he thinks is an actual murder in Turner’s house, he must convince his friends to help him find proof before he’s the next victim.
Disturbia is, obviously, a teen-friendly update of Alfred Hitchcock’s “Rear Window”, with the brilliant plot device of the home monitoring bracelet substituting for the latter film’s broken leg/wheelchair. Both films use boredom, voyeurism, and the fevered imaginations of their protagonists to great effect, creating a world in which the audience is constantly questioning the authenticity of what it is they and the film’s heroes are seeing. LaBeouf’s Kale proves to be just as loveable and relatable as Jimmy Stewart’s L. B. Jefferies, and we can’t help but be drawn into his world of isolation and boredom, just as we can’t help but share his enthusiasm when it seems that something so potentially dangerous comes into his humdrum existence. It’s here that Disturbia triumphs, as it slowly upends contemporary suburban life, revealing its dark underbelly. Of course, being a PG-13 film geared towards young adults, it does all of this with an unrelenting sense of humor, and the decidedly modern conventions of cellular phones, digital cameras, as well as the modern amateur sleuth’s most potent tool, the internet. While the film’s predictably clumsy conclusion isn’t nearly as satisfying as what gets us there, Disturbia’s still smarter and more effective than a good chunk of the purportedly “adult” suspense films that have been forced upon us in recent years.
Paramount presents Disturbia in all major formats, including Blu-ray, HD-DVD, and both widescreen and fullscreen DVD editions. The extras in all formats are the same, including a commentary by director D.J. Caruso and cast members Shia LaBeouf and Sarah Roemer; deleted scenes; a making of featurette; a “Serial Pursuit” trivia pop-up quiz; outtakes; music video; stills gallery; and more