PG-13 rated horror are always a gamble. Your softies will argue that you don’t need gratuitous sex and gore to make good horror but let’s be honest; the adult themes which demand the higher ratings are kind of intrinsic to the genre. This is the reason, in my opinion, why ‘Disturbia’, whilst pretty good, never becomes great; there is never a genuine feeling of threat.
The plot is fairly reminiscent of Hitchcock’s ‘Rear Window’, and indeed if you read online trivia you will discover the movie was, at one early incarnation, designed to be a remake of the classic. Certainly though ‘Disturbia’ has a more modern and individual feel, but it’s the same sort of thing. When teenager ‘Kele’ is put under citizen’s arrest he takes up people watching as a way to pass the time. His attention is naturally first drawn to the hot girl next door and her antics (swimming, changing etc.); however it isn’t long before his other neighbour a Mr Turner catches the boy’s eye. Mr Turner’s choice of vehicle and late night activities lead Kele and his new found fancy piece to believe that he might be the serial killer police are advertising through local TV.
From then on there are a few subplots which interrupt the main plot but overall I’m sure you can guess where the story goes from here and I won’t ruin if for you. The plot is well thought through and it fits the demographic well. The characters are all quirky and the teen romance sections of the movie are of the usual feel-good flirt and tease pitch rather than sleaze and HC content we are used to viewing. The acting is fantastic, and it’s great to see another upcoming start (in Shia LeBeouf) establishing his career in horror – who can forget Jonny Depp facing off against Freddy Krueger. In fact these sections of the movie are so engaging and genuinely witty that the movie falls short in the suspense department.
One thing this movie struggles with most is it pacing. As I indicated in the opening paragraph there is no genuine feeling of threat. The suspect, ‘Mr Palmer’, is so obvious in his activities that it’s not really that believable that he hasn’t been caught yet. His part of the story is not particularly well developed, and I was hoping that there would be more of a cat goads mouse situation which occurs, especially as Palmer identifies he is being watched early on in the movie. Sadly not, and the movie ends in a rather drawn out scenario which doesn’t really reflect the suspenseful subtle nature of the rest of the movie.
Overall ‘Disturbia’ is a great easy watching movie. It has some great dialogue and set pieces, most being, ironically enough, genuinely laugh out loud. It is not however in anyway jumpy or scary, and this for me was its big short coming; that said, asked simply did I enjoy it – the answer would be a definite yes.