Disturbia is a critically vulnerable film at the outset. Its task is an audacious one: "YouTubing" Hitchcock. Who isn't disturbed by the prospect of D.J. Caruso (Taking Lives!) helming a Rear Window rip-off for the MySpace generation? In the role of Jimmy Stewart: The talented if somewhat untested Shia LeBeouf. Grace Kelly: Sarah Roemer, a bit player in the woeful The Grudge 2. Gulp. Instead of a telescope, we get about four sets of binoculars, video cameras, mobile phones, and some outrageously sophisticated computer surveillance equipment. Instead of the poignantly crafted Miss Lonelyheart and the frustrated composer of Hitchcock's film, the neighbourhood offers for our voyeuristic pleasures the bikini-clad girl next door and a group of prepubescents with a penchant for porn. There is so much wrong before the film has even begun.
The film's beginning will not allay your fears. Kale (LaBeouf) and his dad (Matt Craven) are fishing. Knee-deep in a lake and surrounded by mountains, they share a particularly cheesy father-son moment. We see that he's not just Kale's father, he is his friend. The relationship is so clichéd and the setting so cloyingly idyllic, that one wants to run for the (admittedly beautiful-looking) hills. However, before you go to switch off the Hallmark channel, Caruso offs the dad in a car accident just brutal enough to forgive what came before and dissolve some preconceptions. It's a pretty good move (although not quite Janet Leigh in the Bates Motel shower) and sets us up for a film that effectively handles and plays its audience.
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