Thursday, July 05, 2007


D.J. Caruso | 2007 | 104 min | US

This movie received some great reviews when it came out for being a clever, albeit light, thriller. No.

Kale Brecht (Shia LaBeouf) is a troubled young man who is placed under house arrest for punching his high school Spanish teacher. What is a rambunctious teen to do with an entire summer spent indoors? Spy on the neighbours, of course. The time is clipping along nicely with our hero learning the extramarital routines + swimming habits of those around him, until Kale begins to suspect that one of those neighbours is a murderer. He enlists his friends to help him in investigating the man as his actions grow more suspicious. Lest we begin to think Kale is suffering from an overactive imagination, the director makes it very clear as quickly as possible that the neighbour is definitely a killer. Gosh, thanks. Suspense makes me nervous!

While there are a couple (as in two) good, tense moments, the film seems to be crafted to be as safe + inoffensive as possible. A tepid teen romance is clumsily tossed in, as is a wacky best pal, + there is a long wade through their interactions before we get to anything involving plot advancement. As to up the generic anywhere-ness of it all, the only clues we have to the setting are the characters mentioning recent moves "from the city" or the dullness of living "in the burbs." It's like we are right there with them, listening to the same unbearable soundtrack + score.

All of this may be acceptable if the climax was not so recognizable to anyone with even a slight familiarity with slasher films. The ending is horror trope after trope + only exists because the previously methodical + exacting killer suddenly loses his shit in service to the screenwriters.

And how in the fucking fuck could the writers get away with not giving credit to Rear Window? This is Teen Rear Window. Just replace "wheelchair-bound photographer" with "idiot fuckface." Also replace "suspense" with "opposite of suspense."

Stranger still, I was puzzled by the odd directorial choice of frequently moving large silhouettes across the frame over the opening few scenes of the film (note: my copy may or may not have been a bootleg).

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