You won’t be getting any brownie points for noticing that Disturbia bears more than a passing resemblance to a certain Hitchcock film. Aren’t you the movie expert. Far more interesting is the nature of that backward glance to Rear Window: the casual, over-the-shoulder “whatever” perfected by Generation YouTube and embodied by Shia LaBeouf, more alert here than he usually lets on.
Instead of a broken leg, LaBeouf is housebound by an electronic cuff, la Martha Stewart, for violently taking out his dead-daddy grief on a Spanish teacher. Cruel summer? Far from it: Beyond the Xbox lurks a whole world of voyeuristic delights—a hot new teen neighbor prone to yoga poses in bikinis (Roemer), a creepy one who tends his garden a bit too often (Dancer in the Dark’s Morse). You know where this is going, yet for enjoyable stretches, director D.J. Caruso seems ready to play against the classic setup’s seriousness, opting instead for a pranky, gadgety spirit of wasted youth. When he dutifully gets around to the basement struggles and multiple stabbings, his film loses any identity it might have had. Closing on a surprisingly prudish, prosurveillance note, you don’t have to wonder if lessons have been learned. Downloaded, maybe. Not learned. (Opens Fri; Click here for venues.)—Joshua Rothkopf