It’s 2 a.m. and you awake with a jerk, alone in your fully lit apartment and still on the couch. On TV, the credits of some movie you’ve already seen a billion times are scrolling by. It feels like rock bottom. And we know, because we’re just like you: single.
Need a movie to keep you company until you literally can’t keep your eyes open? Join us tonight when we pass out to Disturbia [starting @ 12:15 a.m. on HBO Zone]
Why we’ll try to stay up and watch it: We love a good origin story—unless, of course, it’s Wolverine—so naturally Disturbia ranks high on our list of favorites. Oh, we know what you’re thinking: How could a Facebook Generation revamp of Rear Window be considered an “origin film” when it’s nothing more than a one-off scarefest? And to that we’d answer: Shia LaBeouf. For this is the story of how a talented boy became the future of Hollywood blockbusters.
When Disturbia hit theaters in the spring of 2007, no one was expecting all that much. That the film went on to gross $117 million worldwide showed that Mr. LaBeouf had some muscle; and when Transformers exploded later that summer ($708 million worldwide) everyone realized one inscrutable fact: Hollywood had found its heir apparent to the Tom’s (Hanks and Cruise, natch). Unlike many of his contemporaries, Mr. LaBeouf is a movie star. He may never be as brooding and dark as Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as sullen and method as Ryan Gosling, or as wistful and sincere as Michael Cera, but the guy exudes a perfect mix of cocky charm and manic “I WANT YOU TO LIKE ME!” energy. He’s funny, but also a little bit dangerous—as if he’s tethered to sanity by a very frayed rope—and the camera just loves him. Watch Mr. LaBeouf on screen in Disturbia, Transformers or even Eagle Eye (we’ll pretend Indiana Jones never happened), and you begin to realize that he never gets lost amid the surrounding giant spectacles; instead, he stands out from the green screen. Mr. LaBeouf is the like the anti-Orlando Bloom.
That Disturbia ends up working half as well as it does is all due to Mr. LaBeouf (and, of course, to Mr. Hitchcock, since this was all his idea anyway). He’s invested in this movie and you can tell he wants to keep you entertained—a quality that certainly helps when things go haywire during an overblown third act that takes the Rear Window structure and pushes it into hyperspace. (Jump scares! Dead bodies! Dungeons! Surgical equipment!) Still, Disturbia manages to be endlessly watchable—a horror thriller that doesn’t disintegrate into torture porn is a hard thing to find these days—and truly winds up being late-night entertainment at its finest.
When we’ll probably fall asleep: Mr. LaBeouf isn’t alone in Disturbia obviously: the supporting cast includes the always-welcome sight of Carrie Anne-Moss (here playing Mr. LaBeouf’s mother—eek!), Aaron Yoo (a stock member of every low-grade teen movie in this decade) and, in the Raymond Burr role, the creepy David Morse. We won’t stick around for the end—which includes Ms. Moss getting kidnapped and tied up in the aforementioned dungeon with a bunch of scary/gross corpses—but we’ll absolutely make it through the end of the second act. At 1:25, 70 minutes into the film, Mr. LaBeouf’s character, Kale, sends Mr. Yoo’s Ronnie on a reconnaissance mission. Of course, this ends badly … but not the way you think. While Disturbia never even comes within 500 miles of Rear Window, this is a sequence even Mr. Hitchcock would have loved. Or, well, at least tolerated.