In the spirit of all things spooky, I mean… it is October, I did say that I was going to watch some scary stuff… I am back to HBOmax… because they have Disturbia. I am just going to come out and say it. I had not been a fan of Shia LaBeouf not because I didn’t think he was a capable actor… just because I hated his character on Even Stevens… but I dug him in Holes… so hell… I figured I would give this a try and see what I thought. Best decision I had made in a while. But check out the trailer and tell me what you think: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gZWjvseFptg)
The good thing is I love Alfred Hitchcock movies. I even took an elective class in college that was all about him. So I knew the premise of this movie was a lot like Rear Window (1954). (The film is considered by many filmgoers, critics, and scholars to be one of Hitchcock’s best and one of the greatest films ever made.) For those of you out there that don’t know about Rear Window, Shame on you. LOL. If you aren’t familiar with the premise of either movie, let’s give the rundown… In Rear Window, Jimmy Stewart plays L.B Jefferies, a photographer that is recovering from a broken leg. He is confined to a wheelchair in his apartment in Greenwich Village, Manhattan. His rear window looks out onto a courtyard and other apartments. During an intense heat wave, he watches his neighbors, who keep their windows open to stay cool. (Super Voyeuristic.) Eventually, he begins to suspect one of his neighbors of murdering his wife. Disturbia has kind of the same premise… but they roll it out a bit differently. Shia Labeouf plays Kale Brecht who punches out a teacher and is given 3 months on house arrest with a ankle monitor and a proximity sensor. He thinks he will be about to play video games and watch television for the 3 months… but when his mother puts her foot down… he resorts to watching the neighbors… one of whom he suspects of being a serial killer. (Fun times.)
So let’s jump into it… I once owned this movie on DVD but it has been years since I have seen it. I knew I had to rewatch it once I saw it on HBOmax.
- So the movie starts of with Kale and his dad fishing. It is a little too happy for what you know is coming. Kale and his father bond and get pretty close. All of that is shattered when there is a car accident that kills Kale’s dad. Kale was the driver… and I am sure that has serious effects on him… The scene takes such a drastic turn for the worst that I remember being in the movie theater and being just as shook up by that as Kale was. That would such… and you felt for Kale… At least I did. Take a look: (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=b9qMqGTi1uc) I mean we have all been in the car and had a person cut us off. But hopefully it is never this drastic. GOODNESS GRACIOUS.
- Fast forward a year later… High School Spanish.. I hated it…. and Kale does too. So much so that he is asleep while his friend gives a oral presentation. When the teacher tries to motivate Kale, I am not sure I agree with his approach… that, however, does not mean Kale should have punched him in the face. It seemed a bit drastic. But people deal with the death of a parent differently. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BWw0KCLcKHc) Although, the judge lets him off pretty easy. I mean, come on house arrest for punching a teacher in the face… among other offenses… DUDE. Kale and his mom get the walked through the house arrest rules. He is shown being fitted for the ankle monitor and the proximity sensor. He can only venture about out in an 100 foot radius from his house. And we are shown that the cop that is supposed to monitor Kale is the cousin of the teacher Kale punched out. (SMH.) Initially, Kale is having a great time on house arrest… (Quarantine in a pandemic is much the same. So I feel this in a way I never did when I was younger.) But his mom definitely puts a stop to that. She killed his subscription to iTunes and Xbox. Poor kid. But I mean this is a punishment. After getting cheeky with her… she even cuts the cord on his tv in dramatic fashion. He really did this on himself.
- Kale’s boredom leads him to watch his neighborhood. (Gotta love the twinky tower.) He becomes familiar with his neighbors comings and goings… He started out spying on the new girl that moves in next door. (She gets sucked into the fold… There must not be a lot to do…) I got a weird feeling watching Kale watch the girl next door undress. And I also had the same feeling I did when I watched Rear window. “Doesn’t anyone have or use their shades/blinds?” (this comes up a lot in the conversations with friends about thriller/scary movies.) He stumbles onto his next-door neighbor Robert Turner. One night Kale becomes suspicious of Turner after he returns home in a 1960s Ford Mustang with a dented fender, which matches the description of a car given on a news report of a serial killer at large. (So… is it just me or is it weird that all he can find to do is people watch? Maybe it is a byproduct of being at home. Not saying that it is unrealistic… but I don’t think I am ever bored enough to watch my neighbors.) I mean, Kale only notices these things because he is forced to be at home…. would he have notice a serial killer otherwise. History says no.
- Kale pitches the idea to his friend Ronnie, and the new girl Ashley that his neighbor is the serial killer. It is interspersed with news footage of a missing woman… You have to know that a teenager is bored out of their mind to watch the damn news.. Oddly, in the first half of the movie… (if you didn’t know what you were getting into beforehand) the news footage blends into the background pretty well. You wonder if Kale is going to impress this girl and then you remember this is about a KILLER. Anyway… Ashley gets involved with watching Turner’s comings and goings with the dudes. Ronnie and Kale have a hard time convincing her… because Turner has fixed his car… They are camera ready when Turner returns to his house with this woman (a redhead… as Ashley points out is the MO of the serial killer they can’t find in Texas. The Police found a house that was abandoned by the owner that was packed with dead bodies. No one knows who the previous owner was. Just like in the Stepfather… how can you buy a house without proper documentation?) Things start off simple enough… but things take a turn for the worst. She is seen running around his house in a panic, but later appears to leave in her car. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NH5fod3mC7c) Gotta love the next morning when Turner shows up in Kale’s kitchen. Maybe if his personality weren’t so douchey people would listen when he talks. Because I mean, he is telling the truth. Tuner is there under the pretense of helping with groceries and Kale doesn’t say much to bring his mother over to his side. He is openly hostile and it just ends up looking like the troublemaker 17 year old kid is berating the nice older neighbor. For someone as smart as Kale, I would have figured he could maneuver better. But… the subtle threat that Turner throws out it awesome. Poor mom is looking to date him and even with his dad having passed away… I am sure Kale is more concerned about mom being the next victim.
- The following day, Kale asks Ashley to follow Turner to the supermarket so that Ronnie can break into Turner’s car to get the code of the garage controller. Caught and intimidated by Turner at the parking, Ashley quits spying on Turner, to Kale’s disappointment. (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VCghHER3cOU) Apparently, teenagers don’t make good spies because…. he knew he was being followed. SMH. (It is slightly different when Jimmy Stewart sends Grace Kelly to the killers apartment.)There is also a scene where Kale is going over the blueprints of Turner’s house and notices a space that wasn’t there originally. “What would he need that for?”
- All of this is not for nothing… Ronnie did manage to get the garage door code. But there is always a catch… Ronnie being the friend that always fucks up has left his phone in Turner’s car. So he has to go and get it. They made it out unscathed the first time… so why not do it again? That always works. Here is where the formula mirrors real life. No one believes Kale. They think he’s paranoid and has too much time on his hands, which could still be argued… However, after watching a lot of these true crime specials… We know… that many times someone does report seeing something strange or knowing a person that fits this description and they aren’t taken seriously. (See Ted Bundy’s first girlfriend.) While inside, Ronnie gets trapped when the garage door closes; Kale attempts to rescue him but alerts the police upon leaving his property with the ankle monitor. The police arrive and search the garage, and find nothing but a bag containing a roadkill deer. Turner… being a chameleon that he is… turns on the charm. He even has an excuse for why the dent on the car is fixed. The car matched the description of the one the missing woman got into before she disappeared. Car show obviously. The cops don’t believe him… Ashley has abandoned him… Ronnie isn’t taking it seriously (he just doesn’t want to get into trouble with the cops.) And his mom doesn’t want to hear a word of it.
- Kale’s mom wants to make sure that Turner doesn’t press charges. So she takes it upon herself to go over to his house and talk to Turner on Kale’s behalf. Kale tries to talk her out of it… but she is determined that he doesn’t go to jail. Well, people have to deal with the consequences of their actions and your son may actually be telling the truth. But know in true thriller fashion… She walks right into the lion’s den. UGH. Ronnie reveals that he has escaped from Turner’s house. (Just like Kale… I would have been furious for making me believe that he was dead.) Kale watches the video Ronnie made while running through Turner’s house, and he notices a corpse wrapped in plastic in a vent. Meanwhile, next door, Turner incapacitates Julie and holds her captive. I really wanted to believe that he wasn’t a killer and it was all in Kale’s mind. She was almost out the damn door. I would say poor lady but she was warned… some people are too trusting. Turner then enters Kale’s house, knocking out Ronnie and binding and gagging Kale. (There is a real struggle scene. I enjoyed that much more than I thought I was going to.) (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=toAOUXtlXXc) He reveals his plan to frame Kale for the murders and make it appear that Kale then killed himself. Kale really made it too easy to be framed… because he sounds like a LUNATIC! Turner is not worried. He plans to do them all in and move on like in Texas… SMH.
- Turner wants Kale to write a note. Kale is stalling…. I mean… what would you do in this situation? But Ashley arrives… Where did she come from anyway? Did she not see Ronnie crumpled up downstairs like a used napkin??? CALL THE POLICE GIRL!! But no… She walks right into a would be murder. But I have to give it up for your girl… She jumped right into action… ATTACKING TURNER. The two of them manage to incapacitate Turner for a brief moment… but I mean… we have all seen these movies before right? It’s quiet… too quiet. Kale at least gets the duct tape off. But Turner comes crashing in (Here’s Johnny style.) They manage to escape to the roof and jump in her pool next door. But what about his mom? WE HAVE TO SAVE HER!!!! (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NGtMNsci-zk)
- Kale’s plan is almost foolproof except for the fact that the cops just think he is a troublemaker. So Cousin Gutierrez is not interested in following up on the call. Plus it is the end of his shift. He wants to finish his damn burger. Kale enters Turner’s home to search for his mother. In a hidden room, Kale finds ample evidence of Turner’s previous murders, including a woman’s dress and wig, indicating Turner pretended to be the woman leaving the house the night Kale and Ashley were watching. (My mind is blown. For some reason… I can’t remember how this played out in Rear Window. I have to watch it again.) Also there is a whole maze underneath this man’s house. None of the builders asked questions about this at all? Did he kill them? I have questions. Gutierrez arrives but doesn’t call for back up… and gets his neck twisted… Poor Guy. He was off duty. Damn! Kale stumbles upon the decaying remains of murder victims, as well as their driver’s licenses and belongings, and finds his mother bound and gagged. Turner appears, slashes Kale in the back and pins him to a wall, but before Turner can kill Kale, Julie stabs him in the leg with a dagger, allowing Kale to grab a pair of gardening shears and impale Turner in the chest with them, finally killing him. The boy had to lookout for his mom… she was all he had left. EVEN THOUGH SHE DIDN’T BELIEVE HIM.
Of course the movie ends with Kale getting the ankle lock taken off. He and Ashley take things to the next level. Thank Goodness Ronnie survived with only a nasty gash… Still a great movie. I don’t think I would change a thing. It starts off a bit slow and isolation drags on. But I would argue that lends to the feeling of paranoia. Is he seeing what he is seeing or is he going crazy. I ask myself that a lot in quarantine life. Shia shined in this movie which is hard to do in what one would think is a grade B movie going into it. But I would say this is probably one of the better remakes (or loosely based upons) I have seen in a while. So… it is on HBOmax. Go watch. Do a watch party with friends…. Do a double feature with Rear Window… and Disturbia. Let me know your thoughts and feelings on the movie.