Disturbia (2007)

Starring: Shia LaBeouf, David Morse, Carrie-Anne Moss, Sarah Roemer, Aaron Yoo

Directed by: DJ Caruso

Rating: 1 2 3 and a half

Shia LaBeouf as Kale in Disturbia

Remember that '80s comedy The Burbs, in which Tom Hanks and Corey Feldman become convinced that their new neighbours are serial killers only to discover, after a series of 'hilarious' incidents, that, in fact, they are? Well, Disturbia is like a sassy teenage version of The Burbs for the YouTube generation.

Troubled teen Kale (Shia LaBeouf) is confined to his home over the summer on house arrest after punching his Spanish teacher in school. With his X-Box disconnected and his iTunes account closed, he soon discovers that the tawdry delights of reality TV are nothing compared to the real life Big Brother going on outside his window. From the business man who's having it away with the maid while his wife is off playing tennis, to the gorgeous new girl on the block, Ashley (Sarah Roemer), who never shuts her curtains, Kale has Wisteria Lane right on his doorstep. Have binoculars, will spy.

But things take a sinister turn when he suspects his secretive neighbour Robert Turner (David Morse, the obsessive cop from House) is a serial killer, and what starts out as in ingenious and naughty bit of fun becomes a deadly game. Dot dot dot…

David Morse as the friendly neighbourhood serial killer in Disturbia

To be honest, it takes an extremely long time for the dot, dot, dots to take come into play and the game to turn nasty. Because instead of bombarding us with blood and violence from the off, Disturbia gives us a chance to get to know our hero, Kale, and, thanks to a charismatic and plausible performance from Shia LaBeouf (who may sound like a dish from the River Cottage meat book but is actually quite an appealing young actor) we get to like him too, and are content to wait for the horror (such as it is) to unfold. When it does, although there are plenty of jumpy moments, it's not exactly what you'd call scary, and it doesn't really make a lot of sense either, but the tension is well-handled and the fact that our villain bears more than a passing resemblance to Hannibal Lecter certainly helps keep us glued.

Disturbia is a straightforward thriller from the school of Alfred Hitchcock, and it's not trying to be clever or postmodern and pretend to be anything else. With shades of the teen horror comedies I loved at school and a nod at suburban slashers such as Halloween, Disturbia is an unassuming but enjoyable little movie. And if nothing else, it teaches us a valuable lesson: always close your curtains when you're undressing, because you never know who might be watching…

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