12 November 2007


I don't want to sound like an old blowhard longing for the glory days of Hollywood's studio system. Disturbia's pretty good. It's an effective suspense/thriller. Shia "The New Dicaprio" LaBeouf is pretty good. But, come on, it's not Rear Window. Shia's kinda sorta cute girl has nothing on Grace Kelly. No one will ever rue the day she marries into Monaco's royal family. Speaking of which: Damn you straight to hell, Prince of Monaco Guy! Who do you think you are, taking Hitchcock's quintessential heroine? F you, a-hole!
Anyway. It's not fair to compare the two. Whether Disturbia is a re-invention or a re-imagining or a contemporary re-telling... it's a different animal. As in weaker. Oops, there I go.

I liked Shia's character, Kale. The opening moments of the film that turn him into the angry troublemaker he becomes are genuinely terrifying, and his resulting petulant attitude is completely understandable. In fact, that's ultimately what holds this story back. Kale's plight is so sad that his voyeuristic tendencies are almost acceptable.

The keen and clever part of Hitchcock's film was the James Stewart character's life of choice was one of distance, through his camera lens. He held everyone, including precious angel Grace Kelly, at bay, but was suddenly thrust into action upon discovering a murderous neighbor. Kale's actions really don't reflect on his character's flaws... he doesn't necessarily want to peek into his neighbor's lives. He got the royal screw and is stuck at home, what else is he supposed to do?

There I go with the comparisons, again. Look, here's the thing, Rear Window is dated. It's long and slow in parts. But it's ultimately more compelling and more harrowing when the chips are on the table. It indicts James and Grace and, gasp, even the audience for peeking through the window curtains, whereas Kale just happens to be bearing witness to evil and ends up going through the whole boy-who-cried-wolf affair.

So, if you've never seen Rear Window, then Disturbia does the job. It's tense and exciting when it needs to be, and surprisingly endearing between the thriller stuff. Kale's wise-ass Asian friend is hilarious. Alas, he has nothing on Grace Kelly, either.

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