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|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E||
dir DJ Caruso|
scr Christopher Landon, Carl Ellsworth
with Shia LaBeouf, Aaron Yoo, Sarah Roemer, Carrie-Anne Moss, David Morse, Jose Pablo Cantillo, Viola Davis, Matt Craven, Amanda Walsh, Rene Rivera, Cindy Lou Adkins, Gillian Shure
release US 13.Apr.07, UK 7.Sep.07
07/US DreamWorks 1h44
Spy kids: LaBeouf and Yoo
Even though the story goes bonkers at the end, this teen thriller keeps us entertained--and on the edge of our seats. It also features another fine performance from the ubiquitous Shia Labeouf.
Kale (LaBeouf) is a troubled teen under house-arrest with an electronic tag, for punching his Spanish teacher. His mother (Moss) is supportive and understanding, but forces him to make the most of his imprisonment, to stop playing videogames and do his chores. So he starts spying on the neighbours instead, and with his pal Ronnie (Yoo) sets his sights on new girl Ashley (Roemer) next door. But she calls their bluff, and the three of them begin watching another neighbour (Morse), who seems to fit the profile of a notorious killer.
If the plot sounds vaguely familiar, that's because this is essentially a remake of Hitchcock's classic thriller Rear Window with a teen cast and house-arrest in place of two broken legs. The film's first half is nicely written, directed and played, with subtle wrinkles and large doses of humour and heart. Then it shifts into a rather brainless suspense movie, complete with unnecessary (and obvious) red herrings, mad-psycho moments and gaping plot holes.
That said, the film is also thoroughly engaging, due mainly to LaBeouf's natural and offhanded performance, which overcomes the script's shortcomings in defining his character. And it's also often very scary, as Caruso adeptly builds the tension even in the most preposterous moments. If he'd kept the film under control a bit better, resisting the Hollywood tendency to over-stretch the plot and over-produce the action, the film could have been a small masterpiece.
While LaBeouf is consistently terrific, and has a very cool chemistry with the lively Yoo, his scenes with the strangely bland Roemer are a little underwhelming, with a romantic subplot that feels extremely thin. And while Moss is very good as the conflicted mother just trying to do the right thing, Morse is far too predictable as the creepy stranger with the unkempt hair and sinister earring. But these are minor quibbles for a film that's such a gripping and enjoyable freak-out.
|Liz Mannion, North Yorkshire: "Just strikes me that Disturbia is almost a remake of Monster House!" (16.Sep.07)|
© 2007 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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