Be a guiltless voyeur again.
By John DeSando, WCBE's It's Movie Time
You won't hear much about the influence of Alfred Hitchcock's 1954 Rear Window on Disturbia possibly because anything remotely nostalgic or educational will alienate a young audience. Too bad, because S.J. Caruso does much better with Hitch than Gus Van Sant did with his 1998 remake of Psycho.
Kale (Shia LaBeouf) is a stay-at-home teen with an ankle bracelet monitor for clocking his Spanish teacher. Ashley (Sarah Roemer) is the new neighbor, looking good in a swimsuit at her pool. What's a housebound boy to do for three months but spy on her and his other neighbors with his binoculars? Enter Hitch's Jimmy Stewart in a wheelchair looking out into his apartment complex. Both are hypnotized by their voyeurism, both sexual and criminal, as they try to figure out if a suspicious neighbor is a murderer.
However, while Hitch relies on crisp dialogue between Stewart, Thelma Ritter, and Grace Kelly, Caruso relies too much on flashy camera shots and predictable dialogue to create a classic makeover. Moreover, Hitch's sub-theme about marriage is almost as intriguing as the major topic about the active versus passive life. Disturbia is mostly about what is seen rather than suggested.
But Disturbia is fun: David Morse as Turner, a suspicious neighbor, is charming and menacing; he'll never be out of work playing this character. LaBeouf is credible as an older, wiser teen still trying to make sense of a life that lost his father too soon. What happens to them all can be predicted if you know Rear Window; if you don't, predict anyway because the plot twists, scary false starts, and incredulous authorities have been played hundreds of times since Alfred Hitchcock so handily turned out his classic over 50 years ago.
Be a guiltless voyeur again. See Disturbia.
John DeSando teaches film at Franklin University and co-hosts WCBE 90.5's It's Movie Time, which can be heard streaming at www.wcbe.org Fridays at 3:01 pm and 8:01 pm and on demand anytime. Contact him at JDeSando@Columbus.RR.com