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Hollywood Rewind | Disturbia: A thrilling film led by an in-form Shia LaBeouf

Shia LaBeouf has been in many movies, but my earliest memory of seeing him act is in the 2007 DJ Caruso movie Disturbia. I remember watching it on CD, and experiencing a rush of thrill mixed with fear. Since then, LaBeouf has been in news much more for his controversial antics than his work. Although he has starred in better movies than this one (Fury, Nymphomaniac Vol I, American Honey, Honey Boy and The Peanut Butter Falcon), but Disturbia truly showcased his talent and potential.

The film had a good cast, LaBeouf and David Morse who really suited their parts to the T. What also worked in favour of the movie was the way it was shot. It works both as a 2007 film and as a present-day commentary on voyeurism, stalking and basically recording every tiny thing one does out of boredom. The storyline revolves around one high-schooler Kale (Shia), who has been punished with house arrest after assaulting his teacher. With nothing to do and a lot of time to kill, Kale begins to randomly spy on his neighbours, one of whom is a pretty girl, and the other is an ageing man with a mysterious aura about him. Now one fine day, once he has befriended his crush and is sitting idly in his room with his best friend, the trio decide to do more of that stalking. Later, Kale realises he might have seen something dangerous. So, should he follow his instincts? Or is his lonely self getting the better of him?

Executive producer and renowned filmmaker Steven Spielberg apparently shortlisted LaBeouf himself for the role. And as it so happened, the actor did make the final cut. Morse, who played the mysterious neighbour, apparently did not speak to any of the cast during the shoot of the movie as he did not want to be influenced by his interactions with the younger cast. The IMDb trivia page quotes Shia as saying, “When we finished filming, he was very friendly. But he’s a method actor, and as long as we were shooting, he wouldn’t say a word to us.” (SPOILER) The result: we get a deadly villain with an ominous, terrifyingly quiet aura about him. Meanwhile, Carrie-Anne Moss, unlike her Matrix movies, did not have much to do here as she was painted as a young, slightly exhausted and concerned motherly figure to Shia’s character.

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There is also a very Hitchcock-esque feel to the movie, with its use of the voyeur angle and a constant sense of underlying creepiness that something evil is lurking just behind the proverbial curtain. And it makes sense to have that vibe from Disturbia since it was apparently modelled after Rear Window. Upon its release, the movie was hailed for its lead performance and made a good profit at the box office.

You can rent Disturbia on Google Play. 

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