Making the Grades
Kale Brecht (Shia LeBeouf) is stuck at home on house arrest for punching his schoolteacher. Bored completely out of his mind after his mother tops off his sentence with her own form of punishment (i.e. canceling his iTunes account and other cable extras), Kale turns to spying on the neighborhood to pass his time.
Lucky for him, he lives in a suburb filled with large plate glass windows and very few blinds. Using his binoculars, he catches a new move-in sunbathing in her backyard and watches the guy next door mow his lawn. Behind all those uncovered panes, he also catches plenty of private activities -- a girl undressing, family fights, boys watching pornographic programs and a couple becoming intimate.
However, he uncovers more than he bargains for when he thinks he sees Mr. Turner (David Morse) stab a woman in his living room.
Suddenly the hours of isolated confinement, along with graphic news reports of missing women, begins to play on Kale's mind. Watching his neighbors, which was once a mindless diversion, becomes an obsession for the imprisoned teen. With the help of his friends Ronnie (Aaron Yoo) and Ashley (Sarah Roemer), Kale sets up a camera in his bedroom to capture the questionable activities of Mr. Turner.
While the police and even Kale's mother (Carrie-Anne Moss) write the rampant paranoia off as the result of his prolonged incarceration, the boy and his friends are sure they are on to something. They are even more certain when the elusive Mr. Turner's idle remarks start to take on a menacing tone.
Believable at first, this script builds itself up to be a good scare for teens. Focusing on an innocent bedroom community, it dredges up all the dark secrets hidden behind closed doors. Seemingly innocuous acts become sinister deeds as imaginations run wild. But like Kale's fears, the script increasingly loses control and credibility as incongruities start to multiply. Disregarding the first rule of surveillance, Kale and his friends stand in front of well-lit windows making them as much of a target as their victims. There are also frequent uses of scatological slang and disturbing depictions of violence including a gruesome automobile accident, bloody body parts and decomposing corpses.
Although Kale's ankle monitor restricts his movements, it does little to curb his attitude. Stuck at home, he continues to disregard his overworked mother's plea for help, fails to feel any remorse for the act that lead to his confinement and doesn't find anything wrong with being a Peeping Tom. If it wasn't for a serial killer living on the other side of the fence, this kid would be the reason this suburb is disturbed.
© 2007 One Voice Communications. All Rights Reserved.
Discussion Ideas After The Movie
Teaching ideas and topics to discuss about Disturbia.
Why does his father’s death have such an impact on Kale? How might he have been helped? What effect does the accident have on his relationship with his mother? Would we feel as sympathetic toward our “hero” (Kale) if his father hadn’t been killed?
What causes Kale to become suspicious of Mr. Turner? Is it natural to suspect the worst in others? Can isolation play a part in the development of paranoia and fear? How?
What effect does his punishment have on Kale’s attitude? Does it change by the end of the film? In what ways is this a “kid-power” movie? How are adults portrayed?