Disturbia – Review – 2 1/2 Stars

After my adoration of the great Shia LaBeouf in Transformers I was eager to see what he could pull off again in this (for me) eagerly awaited psycho-thriller. There has been many issues with the release of this film, half the world having already seen it before Transformers was released, and for others, like ourselves here in South Africa, it is only just beginning to hit our screens. Shia is great. He is not a revelation and I was by no means as excited about his performance as I was after Transformers but he really captured me once again. The problem here, which is the same as in his last film, but far worse, is the fact that his character and the script itself is very limiting. Shia is reduced to being the twitchy, nervous, slightly geeky boy next door, who can still win girls hearts. He has no goals, and no great character lack, for which at the end of the film he can really feel fulfilled. His performance and character are very similar to Transformers. This is fine for now, but lets just hope that his Indiana Jones Character next year (Yes, there is another Indy film) branches out in a completely new direction, so as to avoid typecasting. One thing is clear from this film again is that Shia LaBeouf has screen presence and charisma. I marvel at this and often talk about it because it is something that has been lacking in the ‘stars’ of this decade. Shia is not a pretty boy who coasts along on his looks. He has talent that people like Orlando Bloom could only wish for, and we expect great things from him. Alright, enough about Shia, there is actually a movie beneath this. Not a great movie, at all, but none the less, there are things to discuss. Lets start with the his Shia’s female co-star. She is basically just a hot girl. Which does help, because her and Shia have fairly good chemistry, probably equal if not more than Megan Fox (Transformers). The thing is, due to the immaturity of this film, she becomes a character who all of a sudden just knows how to search for criminals on line, and reads a lot, and she becomes an amalgamation of many characters, including Mary Jane from Spider-man, that are just thrown into a big bowl and poured onto the screen. It doesn’t seem like much though had gone into this story in terms of developing and fleshing out characters. Another example of this is the Chinese sidekick, played by Aaron Yoo from ‘The Perfect Score’, which I still have not seen. He is funny, and the scene where he breaks into the neighb ours car, cleverly shot only from Shia’s vantage point, is very tense and gets a good giggle. He is however, just a cardboard cut out, side kick, something we have all seen before and doesn’t keep my attention for more than a few scenes. I find the casting of Carrie-Anne Moss to just be weird and I feel she just does not belong in the film. That is just my personal grievance and probably comes from the fact that I feel she should just jump over to the next roof, crash in through the ceiling and unleash some jujitsu. I just really felt like she was a piece of unnecessary casting and just drew attention to herself. This role would have been far better suited to an unknown. The casting of their estranged neighbour is quite good and he has a great menacing presence. More could have been made by say, Anthony Hopkins but I’m so glad he didn’t waste his time with a character that goes absolutely no where, and for such a central character, has absolutely no motive and is himself basically a plot device than a meaningful person. Disturbia has a great premise:- A guy under house arrest, stuck alone in his house, witnesses a murder across the way, but can’t do anything about it because of his prison, and he begins to lose himself. The film does have a certain vibe to which the audience gets attuned. It does somehow manage the capture an uncomfortable feeling of Suburbia, with ill fitting music to the pleasant images. There is a horror lurking beneath the surface. This is established well in the first twenty minutes of the film. This is all wasted though, because the terrific concept is just turned into a run in the middle teen comedy horror. There was so much potential to really get into the head and psychology of Shia’s character who is being driven mad by watching all the people from his little prison. This could have been particularly nice for LaBeouf who could have really been given some meat to work with and explore other aspects of his talent. The film is too tame. There are only two or three really big scares. It is half thriller, half teen drama, but this is sadly not enough and it what it really required was 100% of both. This film is in a sense a tad like Michael Jackson in that it doesn’t seem to know if its black or white. I don’t believe they should have only picked one, because the combining of these genres can be a great advantage. They just needed to be more serious, instead of making a light popcorn thriller. Taking a look at the drama and teen comedy elements, the film half delivers, but is just so simple with no real tension and wonder. The jokes mainly come from Shia’s awkward moments, which are great, but everything else has been done (better) before. The thriller side is very disappointing. The scares are just highly predictable, and we can just guess when a big suspense moment is being built up to only reveal to us a small cat or a practical joke. This happens when the characters are getting nervous but we as the audience does not know either what is coming. When we are placed in a position of power and are omniscient narrators in a sense that is only when the true horror comes and we know that now an actual murder is going to take place. These techniques really should have been varied a bit more. Sadly they are not and we know when something is going to be a hoax, and when something is genuinely going to be horrific. I will avoid spoilers, but ultimately, the story is pointless. You arrive at the end wondering what the point was. There are no large twists and there is no motive from the killer or anything. You really feel like you’ve wasted a two hours of your day watching the far inferior sequel, Ten Things I Hate About You 2 with a bit of killing.