by Tony Medley
What is it with the people
who write titles these days? One of legendary director Frank Capra’s
first jobs in the industry was writing titles to films. Then, the title
was one of the main draws. Today, however, apparently the titling of a
film is in the hands of imbeciles. One good film has already been
sentenced to the trash heap because of a horrible title, Blake Snake
Moan, and idiotic publicity.
Now comes this film, with a
title that makes one think it’s another gothic horror film like What
Ever Happened to Baby Jane? (1962). Titles like this threaten box
office, possibly keeping people away in the same droves that stayed away
from Black Snake Moan, which has brought in a little over $9
million to date. If that happens it would be too bad because this is a
very good thriller.
It’s of the Rear Window
(1954) genre where someone is housebound and spies on his neighbors.
Despite its amazing cast, Grace Kelly, Jimmy Stewart, and Raymond Burr,
and director Alfred Hitchcock, I thought it was terribly slow, without
Hitchcock’s touches that can make certain seemingly ordinary scenes
inordinately suspenseful. The only one I remember in Rear Window
is when Raymond Burr looks out his window and sees Jimmy Stewart
Disturbia is akin to
Rear Window in that the first half is pretty slow. Kale (Shia
LaBeouf), a teenager, has been sentenced to house arrest, so he can’t be
more than 150 feet from the tracking machine in his home. He passes the
time by keeping his room as dirty as possible and spying on his
neighbors with binoculars. He sees, then meets, beautiful next door
neighbor Ashley (Sarah Roemer) and has his buddy, Ronnie (Aaron Yoo)
come over to keep him company. There’s a serial killer on the loose and
because of what Kale sees, he suspects that it’s his neighbor, Mr.
Turner (a scary David Morse, in an Oscar nomination-deserving turn),
whom Kale suspects is doing all the killing. But is he? Kale and Ashley
and Ronnie decide to try to find out.
The script (Carl Ellsworth,
from a story by Christopher Landon) follows Rear Window pretty
faithfully, including the slow first 45-minutes. But director D.J.
Caruso really applies the gas for the final half of the film during
which there is almost constant tension, especially after Mr. Turner gets
involved with Kale’s mother, Julie (Carrie-Anne Moss). Since this story
has been done before, it takes talent to make it scary and keep up
the tension. Caruso is up to it, aided by exceptional cinematography (Rogier
Stoffers) and spectacular set design (Tom Southwell) of Mr. North’s
The last half more than makes
up for what I thought was a draggy first half. I hesitate to call it “Hitchcockian,”
because I think it’s even better than that.
April 9, 2007