If you’re willing to ignore all the obvious positions our characters are put in, “Disturbia” will be pretty excellent. I wasn’t willing to ignore all the obvious marks, so I found it to be pretty damn frustrating. Let’s see, there’s our character Kale who is known for being a liar and deceiver, then there’s our mom who is so self-involved, she can’t listen to our hero, and of course a cop who has it out for him who we know will just come in the nick of time to help our hero when in trouble. And then there’s that nasty habit of the film being so utterly derivative. If there was ever going to be a remake of “Rear Window,” you could basically re-title this and not know the difference. “Disturbia” is a pretty cheesy thriller that is never afraid to flaunt that it’s so predictable.
The house arrest, and elimination of all distractions leads to nosiness and our hero’s potential questioning of his own sanity under cabin fever. Thus, we’re supposed to be led down this path of whether the neighbor across the street is or isn’t an axe murderer with something to hide. And of course there’s our Grace Kelly mark, the woman in peril we know will be involved with our homebound hero and potentially suffer the wrath of the maybe killer. “Disturbia” can only lead us on the “is he a killer or is it all Kale’s imagination” trail before it starts to get old.
It then dispenses with the firm but bloodless action that’s centered around forced tension, two scenes mimicking the Grace Kelly house probe in “Rear Window” sans the biting suspense, and a finale that’s both rushed and forced; meanwhile, the focus on the psychotic neighbor next door is minimal so he’s barely a threat, characters are under-developed, and Kale’s best friend is used for comic relief that’s barely comical, and distracts from the story. We’re also forced to focus on Kale’s budding relationship with his next door neighbor, which all becomes nothing more than padding, since she’s never put into as much immediate danger as Moss’ character is. A few of the highlights of “Disturbia” is the performance from David Morse who is very entertaining as the resident villain who may or may not be a killer.
If you have any common sense, then you know that he may, but in spite of the zero mounting tension built on his character, Morse does what he can and comes out ahead as usual. Carrie Anne Moss’ performance as Kale’s mother is strictly utilitarian, but she’s a very likable actress who is interesting as Kale’s constant foil and moral center. As for Sarah Roemer, she’s a looker if I do say so myself, I expect a large career of many roles, and zero acting ability. When it’s necessary to bring the movie to a close, the writers bring the entire story to a screeching halt in favor of a climax that’s dropped on our laps and left with little terror or aftermath. All the while we’re questioning the dubious behavior of the neighbor. Why would the character put up such a front to cover his crime and then go completely loco attempting to kill everyone in his path?
It simply made zero sense. But, the writers seemed hasty to wrap it all up in the ninety minute mark, and wrap it up they do, even if it ends on a cheesy happy ending that never really sells this as a legit thriller in the end; this leaves about many dangling plot points. Is Kale over his father, what was the connection between Kale’s father and the killer? What about the poor girl in the basement? Is it really that easy to get over all your issues if you have a hot girl by your side? It’s hackneyed, and it all just feels like something I’d read in “Fear Street” from R.L. Stine, and even those books had more suspense, and violence than this mediocre rehash. In the end, it’s not a terrible movie, but then, it’s hardly a good one either. It’s neither horror, nor thriller, just a teen melodrama set to a thriller backdrop that I could take or leave.