I believe it was back in March, after seeing Sandra Bullocks earnest Premonition, that I started to get a little frustrated, almost angry, with Hollywoods inability to do one very simple thing. Create a satisfying thriller.
What seems to have bogged writers and directors down of late, is their insistence on adding an unnecessary level of pretension to films which really dont require anything of the sort. There are certain preconceptions when one goes to see a Hollywood thriller revolving around a typically lurid conceit and when the fun slowly ebbs away and the ill-conceived dramatics slip in, the feeling of being cheated rises to the surface. So all of this complaining finally brings me to Disturbia.
Released back in April in the states and becoming a tidy little sleeper hit, it presents itself with a very blunt but easily sellable hook: Rear Window for teens.
The improbably-named Kale (Shia LaBeouf) is a teen struggling to overcome a tragedy that starts the film off with a short, sharp jolt to the system. A year on and after an altercation with his Spanish teacher, Kale finds himself stuck with an unenviable punishment. Hes under house arrest, tagged so that if he dares to leave his immediate area, hell be hauled back into court with the threat of jail time.
Firstly seeing it as an excuse to play video games and remain on his arse for the entire summer, boredom soon sets in. A boredom that is somewhat alleviated by the bizarre behaviour of his neighbour over the road. When a local girl goes missing, Kale starts to question whether or not he may be living on the same street as a killer. But the more he watches, the more he realises that his curiosity isnt going unnoticed
Lacking the unattainable ambition of some of its suspenseless peers, Disturbia arrives as a refreshingly successful start to the Autumn season. Not only do the executives who chose to green-light the film see it as just a Rear Window rip-off, but apparently so does the writer, and the script is happy to coast on a familiar plot that cant fail to involve the viewer. It sounds like a back-handed compliment to praise the makers for their unoriginality and lack of ambition but Disturbia delivers exactly what it promises, nothing more, nothing less.
Its smooth sailing really from beginning to end. All of the scares are family-friendly, there are no real twists and although greater atrocities are hinted it, the violence is kept to a minimum. The slickness is further emphasised by the choice of lead. Following his turn in Transformers, and preceding his role in the upcoming Indiana Jones 4, Shia LaBeouf is perfect in the role. He has the sort of asexual everyman quality that has made Tom Hanks so popular with the masses. Hell never become a heartthrob but I bet you hell make a mint nonetheless.
Disturbia isnt the kind of film you have to see. No one should rush out this weekend to catch it. But if you did happen to see it, preferably at a suitable late-night slot on TV, youd doubtless be entertained. Admittedly youd have trouble remembering it the day after, but youd still find it an enjoyable way to waste 100 minutes. In a time when everything is being sold as something it isnt, one has to admire Disturbias complete unabashed honesty. Its just a fun, trashy thriller and as predictable as it may be, its firm grasp on what it is, and more importantly what it isnt, is something that a lot of other thrillers should take note of.