A workman-like remake of Hitchcock’s Rear Window for the short-attention span millennial generation, Disturbia‘s pleasures lay not in the ending of the film but in the journey to the destination.Placed on three months’ of house arrest after slugging his Spanish teacher Kale’s (Shia LaBeouf) transformation from angry – and rightly so (for those of you unnerved by VW’s realistic safety commercials from last fall I recommend skipping this movie altogether. The events that open it are staged with enough intimacy to make them too realistic) – disaffected teen to keeper of the neighborhood’s secrets proves that LaBeouf is, indeed, a young actor to watch.

That LaBeouf manages to turn in a good performance is a feat accomplished in spite of not with the support of the script. The plot points that get us from Kale’s initial teenage whining – OK, so Mom (Carrie Anne Moss looking not old enough to be the mother of a 17 year-old) cuts off his XBox live account…does that necessarily mean he’ll abandon the toy altogether? Aww…Mom cancelled his iTunes account. Last time I checked Mom hadn’t cut off the internet and later the script will have us believe that she’s still buying him cell phone minutes despite the $12 per day “incarceration fee” she has to pay for his house arrest – stretch credibility. Perhaps this stems from the fact that the bulk of Director D.J. Caruso’s experience is in television. Regardless of where it comes from, it’s clear the film makers’ were in a rush to get to the meat of the story.

Turning on the premise that you never really know what is going on under your nose, Kale learns a multitude of things about his neighbors: one man is having an affair with the house keeper; the kids next door are sneaking pay-per-view porn; the lady across the street always walks her dog at the same time every day. And then there’s Robert Turner (David Morse). Turner is an enigma. Seemingly no job, mows his lawn every day, and comes and goes at all hours in the company of redheaded women young enough to be his daughter.

Is Turner the man responsible for the disappearance of a local college girl? Things Kale observes tell him yes. The Powers That Be, including a patrol officer who is cousin to Kale’s Spanish teacher, don’t believe his observations. With the help of his friend Ronnie (Aaron Yoo) and new-girl-in-town and next door Ashley (Sarah Roemer) what starts out as a game yields some grisly (and slightly unbelievable) discoveries.

Unlike Hitchcock’s classic Disturbia‘s hip references (YouTube, iPods, product placements for Boost Mobile) will age the film before its time. The thrills and chills are mostly of the things produced by the art department popping out of closets variety. If you don’t go in expecting great art, or great surprises, it’s an OK way to spend 90 minutes on a rainy afternoon.

2.5 popcorns out of 5

Disturbia poster Official site