Disturbia goes beyond unsubtle, it’s fucking clumsy. Characters trip over lawn gnomes, stumble into hidden rooms, bump into windows and hide in closets for 3 weeks all to keep the stupid story moving. It’s the most dishonest, artificial studio garbage product I’ve seen all year, and I’ve seen Transformers, a movie where a giant robot frozen in Antarctica accidentally “burns” an interstellar map into an old guy’s bifocals that end up on eBay. Transformers at least had the excuse to be a movie about giant transforming toys. Disturbia has no such luxury. Both movies star the contemptible Shia LeBeouf, who’s just begging to be strangled the moment he shows up onscreen in full fishing gear with his hokum soon-to-be-tragically-killed father. More of an expert bullshitter than actor, he comes off as a creep, a sarcastic snake oil salesman, whenever he says anything that’s supposed to be in earnest. I don’t believe a goddamn thing that comes out of the guy’s mouth, unless it has something to do with Decepticons. Obviously, the writers deserve as much disdain for writing something even Nickelodeon would scoff, I’ve seen episodes of Are You Afraid of the Dark better than this. One thing the writers do get correct though is teens are dumb, and they are absolutely in need of getting cut to ribbons by insane men.
Not that that happens. Squeaky clean Disturbia cops out at least 27 times per minute. The scariest thing that happens in this half-cocked Hitchcock rip-off is not when Shia discovers his next-door neighbor may be a serial killer, or when his friend may be a new victim, but when he monologues to the gorgeous new girl on the block in excruciating detail how he’s been watching her and memorizing her daily routine. To cap it off with the right amount of
romance sleaze he throws in some asshole line about how her eyes “watch the world” or some crap, I dunno, I was swallowing my own tongue at that point. So what else does she do but fall for him. More date movie than triller I assume Disturbia’s filmmmakers, when not busy fingerbanging each other, assumed guys would be too busy fingerbanging their dates to notice the movie they paid $22 ($36-43 with snacks) for was a heaping shitload of fuck.
The refuse kicks off the sudden death of Shia’s dad. Their car is hit by at least 14 different cars yet none of them stop and no messy trials ensue afterward or anything. Time passes and Shia continues going to school, or rather, sleeping in school, probably from the suffocating amount of hair product in the classrooms, and he’s wearing a hooded sweatshirt so you KNOW he’s depressed. So, Shia has to get arrested to get the movie going and that’s when his dickhead Spanish teacher calls on him. When Shia can’t answer, Senor Dickface summons all the pettiness of the world to ask “What would your father think?” Shia, with all the fury of a thousand Linkin Park solos, clocks him in the face.
He’s put under house arrest and given one of those ankle things – AND YES THEY DO MENTION MARTHA STEWART LOL SO TOPICAL – and wouldn’t you know it the officer assigned to him is his Spanish teacher’s cousin, and since he’s a cop he’s even pettier. All the cops in the movie are alarmist, panicky fatheads, swinging their guns around at anything like they’re in Baghdad and not a fucking suburban front lawn, most likely manicured to green perfection by their other cousins. Being a minority in a stupid movie, yes, Officer Cousin does die and, come to think of it, he’s the only onscreen death in the whole movie and it’s a simple seen-it-a-million-times neck snap fatality.
I’m surprised and a tad disappointed Spanish teacher assaults didn’t skyrocket after Distburia came out. If Shia’s house arrest is any indication, being under house arrest means you’re on vacation! Chowing down junk food and watching junk TV, he’s told early on to do something “constructive” to pass the time. The movie pats its back for being so sly when it jump cuts to Shia playing G.R.A.W. on Xbox Live, barking into the headset like a rottweiler. When he’s not gaming like a jackass he’s fiddling with his Apple iPod, buying stuff off Apple iTunes and building sculptures out of Twinkies. If this, Transformers and I Robot are any indication Shia must have a clause in his contract stipulating shameless amounts of product placement in all his roles. One wonders in awe and ecstasy the amount of anachronistic goods he’ll shill in Indiana Jones 4.
Meanwhile, Shia will feel guilty and go in his dead dad’s study. You know this is serious and sad because the soundtrack will let you know. The “Shia Feels Guilty for His Dead Dad” theme plays often, in fact, all the music plays too often. The Bernard Herrmann-esque score overpowers everything but instead of providing tension or atmosphere is just gets in the way. It’s like “Okay, music, we get it, this is supposed to be frightening you can put the theremin down now.” It’s just embarrassing.
So, one day, while guilt tripping in the study, he looks out the window to discover the squishy tush of his new cockbait neighbor. Shia forgets all about dear dad and grabs the nearest set of binoculars to ogle the flirtiest, fastest love interest on record. In no time at all, and thanks to Shia’s dopey friend bonking the binocs against the windowpane, Cockbait comes over, befriends the both of them and takes over Shia’s stakeout of his serial killer neighbor. They kiss, fight a little, kiss again blah blah blah farts.
Finally, 12 Monkeys and Arlington Road freak David Morse shows up because Shia’s mom, Carrie Anne-Moss, is a total doof and lets him in the house. Morse smalltalks with Shia about his stupid Spanish teacher and Morse sympathizes, uttering the funniest, goofiest line in the movie, something like “I, too, had teachers I wanted to… KILL.” Dropping trou and jerking it right there would’ve been a more graceful tactic.
The movie bumbles along with nary a twist or an interesting thought. Somehow, in broad daylight, Shia’s buddy breaks into Morse’s car for… some… reason. How no one in suburbia (I’m sorry, DISTURBIA, and yes, Shia awkwardly says the film’s title IN the film) spots this is over my head, especially with the amount of gun crazy cops there are in the town. So, of course, any rational human being could predict the friend is gonna bite it. But first he needs a reason to go INTO the serial killer’s house. What could that be? Hmm. Man. Of course! He drops his phone, that phone he had when he was in the car! Remember that phone? No? Well, he dropped his phone in the car! So he goes into… the house…?!
Cue the overdramatic finale, complete with thunder and lightning, the mom is in danger now, oh noooo, it all devolves into childish haunted house scares and numerous fake-outs. The Midnight Society would be fucking red in the face. In the end, Shia’s friend, who miraculously survives a metal baseball bat to the head, videotapes Shia and Cockbait making out, and says “Soon, you’ll be the most popular video on YouTube.” And Shia, in the final shot of the movie, flips the bird to the camera, and by extension, to the audience as well. Well, fuck you too.
What fries my beans is Disturbia could’ve been a good modern day Hitchcockian thriller, and for what it is, I suppose it does do a decent job of introducing 13-year-olds to the genre. It’s also not without at least an iota of charm, at least in one scene, when Shia rigs up speakers on his roof to play loud mood-killing music that dwarfs a party Cockbait throws next door. She is livid while Shia rubs his hands together with all the glee of a cartoon villain. It’s a keen look at the type of obnoxious, boorish behavior that goes on in suburbia, it’s just too bad his revenge leads to him getting some. It’s too bad it’s an obnoxious, boring movie too, that, in a post-Scream world, makes attempts at self-awareness but only succeeds in making the whole thing more annoying.
It could also have been an interesting take on the post-9/11 YouTube-watching Facebook-trolling digital society kids are fucking with. Privacy is almost a thing of the past thanks to cock- and fame-hungry exhibitionists littering the Net with billions of MySpace photos, Digging tons of junk data accumulating every second. Not to mention the obsession with surveillance in the political sphere. A good portion of Disturbia is characters watching other characters through cameras and key information is revealed in an inexplicable Blade Runner-style image-enhancing scene. Instead, the movie stumbles over itself more times than I can keep track of, winks at you in its final moments and gives all the voyeurism rhetoric to David Morse the Psycho, who mentions in a passing the “paranoid state of the world.” But, hey, he kills people, so you’re meant to distrust his words anyway. Which is bullshit since the guy undoubtedly has a point and in a movie that pits Shia LeBoeoeofuf against a serial killer, I gotta pick the serial killer. Sure, he chops people up but if that’s what it takes to keep a modicum of privacy these days then let heads roll.