By Ryan Parsons | Images property of DreamWorks Pictures.
I don't begrudge anyone doing a modern interpretation of a classic story. The filmmakers are probably correctly downplaying such similarities because on the surface, it has negative connotations. But we need to continue exploring classic situations as the times evolve. They should really embrace it more.
Updated Voyeurism: Disturbia
Disturbia is quite clearly a modern Rear Window. A kid (Shia Labeouf) under house arrest takes to voyeurism and suspects his neighbor (David Morse) is a killer. Confined to his house, he can only send his friends on missions for him and use his wits to put the pieces together.
Now, I think that is a fine update of the Rear Window situation. It's not a physical injury, it's a technological restriction. A kid has much different intentions as a voyeur than a noble middle-aged man, and even more helplessness in believability by adults.
The film follows the suspense pattern well. The kids keep trying to find evidence of their, the killer keeps evading suspicion. They have to do certain things before he gets back, race against time sort of thing.The ankle bracelet provides a useful strategy for suspenseful confrontations.
It kind of cheats a few times. He crosses the line several times. There are some great scenes playing off the consequences of setting off the ankle bracelet, but it feels like there's as much time spent out of the house as in it.
The most surprising thing is that there are actual scenes of acting in this teen thriller. Labeouf's character becomes a delinquent because his father dies in an automobile accident on one of their bonding trips. His look at the carnage, and subsequent moping in school is a real performance, and subtle enough so it's not just, "Look at me brood."
Disturbia may not make kids rent Rear Window but it's still better than the Christopher Reeve remake where they never even revealed where the killer hid the body. At least this one has some moments of exploiting a new version of the premise.
The bad guy ultimately starts explaining his whole plan to set them up, giving the heroes plenty of time. And it ends with just another big action chase and fight. But it's not boring.