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By Zack Haddad | April 14, 2007

Suspense and horror films have been lackluster at best for the last eight years or so. It seems that it is so hard to frighten us that filmmakers have to resort to using copious amounts of blood and disturbing jumpcut images. A movie hasn’t made me jump in years, that is, until “Disturbia.” Yes, I know many of you out there think that this is just a “Rear Window” knock-off, and in a way it is. Still, it does a decent job at delivering genuine chills with good acting jobs all around. It may be a “Rear Window” for kids, but I don’t think that is necessarily a bad thing.

Kale (Shia LaBeouf), is under house arrest for the entire summer for punching his teacher. Trapped in the confines of his house, he starts to spy on neighbors including the hot new girl in the neighborhood, Ashley (Sarah Roemer), and Mr. Turner (David Morse) who may or may not be a serial killer. The more he pursues spying on Mr. Turner, the more Kale gets suspicious and the more his mom Julie (Carrie-Anne Moss) stops trusting him. All of this leads to a very predictable ending which after the first thirty minutes, you will probably have figured out. That doesn’t mean that the ride along the way is bad, however.

The film was directed by D.J. Caruso (“Taking Lives, “Two for the Money”), and the film is shot in a clever way that can reflect on the contemporary society that it is displaying. Granted, the plot had some holes in it and it wasn’t completely realistic. Yet, I still enjoyed this film and took it for what it was: a teen popcorn flick that actually delivers some great moments. Now I wasn’t scared by every moment the film gave me. I have just never seen an entire theater react to so many moments in sync so many times.

The film relied quite a bit on random technology, which could be hit or miss. I didn’t mind the overabundance of camera tech talk and spy gadgets in the film too much, but I could see where many think that the film uses technology as a crutch in terms of developing story. I also had a problem with the ending, no spoilers, since it seemed highly unlikely that Kale and the rest of his friends would act they way they do, given the results of the final act.

All told, it was surprising to me that I ended up liking this movie. I, like many others, thought that this film was going to just end up being another weak teen cash-in on the thriller genre. Instead, it did a great job of giving chills and making me jump. It may not be the most original film out there, but which ones out there today are completely original anyways? If you are into suspense films and you don’t mind predicting the ending very early on, then go check out this film, since it really isn’t as bad as some of the previews lead you to think.

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