Audience demographics and business imperatives now dictate that every classic Hollywood movie be remade for 12 to 25-year-olds. Hack director DJ Caruso’s slick, adolescent reworking of Alfred Hitchcock’s ‘Rear Window’ fuses John Hughes-style teen comedy with the darker suburban paranoia of Joe Dante’s ‘The ’burbs’. You’ll jump as if you’ve had electrodes attached to your sensitive parts; but when your nerve endings stop tingling, your brain won’t remember a thing.
Having lost his father in a road accident and punched out his Spanish teacher, mixed-up 17-year-old Kale (Shia LaBeouf) is fitted with an electronic tag that is activated if he strays more than 100 yards from his home. With the help of his nerdy tech-wizard pal Ronnie (Aaron Yoo), who also gets to do most of the legwork, Kale rigs up surveillance equipment and spies on his neighbours. Of particular interest is the new girl-next-door, Ashley (Sarah Roemer), but also the secretive Mr Turner (David Morse), who Kale becomes convinced is a serial killer.
The screenplay by Christopher Landon and Carl Ellsworth (‘Red Eye’) works best in the quieter, creepier scenes, where the threat is implied through hushed dialogue or telling (returned) looks. Sadly, the subsequent switch from playful voyeurism to life-threatening violence is abrupt, brutal and unconvincing. Also, it’s hard to work up the same emotional interest in three standard-issue teens (and Carrie-Anne Moss’s harassed mother) that one could invest in the urbane, wheelchairbound James Stewart and the glamorous Grace Kelly. That said, David Morse is physically and psychologically terrifying, and Caruso efficiently cranks up the tension and jeopardy during the extended finale.