THE BARE FACTS : Disturbia is a very good film directed by D.J. Caruso.

It's very frustrating to know you will never be able to see each and every "great" movie. Good choices have to be made, wrong choices will be made. I can't say I'm very picky : I have seen my share of craptacular films (e.g. Good Luck Chuck, Scary Movie, One Night At McCool's).

But I am picky when it comes to the silver screen : a movie has to grab my attention, has to suck(er) and lure me in before I'm willing to spend 8-odd dollars, ducats or euros. A mediocre movie never works on the big screen, whichever way you look at it. Take The Lost World : Jurassic Park. I loved it when I was 13 years old, but it's not a good movie. It was a fine multiplex experience, if just for the visuals, but not a satisfying one.

One genre I have always deliberately ignored is the slasher/scarefest. I don't like the tension and the suspension, the dark atmosphere and the overall fear, the thrills and the kills, the scares and the lairs or the shrieks and the freaks. I may forget a few, but I think I have only seen The Shining - which is not a true slasher flick, because there's not a lot of killing going on - and A Nightmare On Elm Street. As such, notable classics as Alien, Last House On The Left, The Evil Dead, Scream, The Hills Have Eyes & Straw Dogs have all eluded me.

Why is this important in a Disturbia review? Because I can't properly compare! For a horrorbuff, Disturbia probably comes off as a "close, but no cigar" or "pretty good just ain't good enough" flick. But I, for one, was genuinely scared. Edge-of-your-seat-stuff around at least five or six corners, moments that were baleful for my nails and scenes that made me turn away. Disturbia is the kind of movie I would never watch, but ... it's a very, very well made movie. A true thumbs up-worthy package.

Shia LaBeouf is Kale, the lead. I have now seen three Shia movies and it's a bit disappointing to notice he's basically playing the same charachter over and over again. What's the difference between Kale and Sam Witwicky from Transformers?
But! Don't let my criticism [what gives me, an amateur actor who puts the ogre in mediogre, the right to bash LaBeouf?] fool you : Shia gives his best performance yet in Disturbia. He's believable, fucked up, snappy, funny and sweet. Why sweet? At one point, he seduces the object of his affection with a heartfelt and passionate speech. A very tender and unexpected moment in an otherwise scary movie.

Talking about "the object" : just as Megan Fox proved she was a lot more than "the hot bod" in Transformers, actress Sarah Roemer is very good. The comic relief comes from Aaron Yoo, who sure looks a lot younger than he actually is. Shia's mother is played by Carrie-Anne Moss and I didn't recognize "that Matrix lady" at all. Her mother persona is a huge, positive (acting) step away from "that Matrix broad". Suffice to say, a solid cast. I don't want to say anything about "the killer", because spoilers are to be avoided. Rest assured : the thespian who plays the slasher is super creepy. Dear lord, a few nightmares for yours truly will be the result.

Disturbia incorporates more than one homage to classic movies. The main plot (person peeps at peers) echoes Alfred Hitchcock's Rear Window and the killer furiously crashes through a door, reminiscent of The Shining's "Heeeeeere's Johnny!".

Disturbia is an unexpected treat. I paid $1.99 for the HD DVD. For crying out loud, some rancid B-movies are more expensive! But a great, great movie it is. Check it out today. Just be sure to look under the bed before you close your eyes.

Julian De Backer, 7 June 2009