|Spoiler warning: The following contains plot details about|
the entire movie.
A year after a car accident resulted in his father’s death, teenager Kale Brecht (Shia LaBeouf) is sued by his teacher for aggravated assault after making a personal remark about his dad and is sentenced to three months home confinement. He is secured with an ankle monitor and allowed only 100 feet from his house.
After Kale's mother, Julie (Carrie-Anne Moss), cuts him off from television, video games and music to keep costs down and to get him to be more creative around the house, Kale begins to develop cabin fever and starts spying on his neighbors, including Robert Turner (David Morse), a man who is having an affair with his cleaning maid, the boys next door who occasionally play pranks on Kale & the new neighbor, Ashley Carlson (Sarah Roemer) who Kale and his best friend Ronnie (Aaron Yoo) spy on swimming in her pool. Kale and Ronnie begin to research Turner after Kale witnesses several strange occurrences at Turner's house and thinks Turner might be a serial killer.
Ashley becomes aware of Kale and Ronnie's spying, who confronts them and decides to join the pair in investigating Turner. Later that night, Turner brings home a date and serves her wine and dances for Turner while Kale and Ashley watch.
After Ashley has to leave for the night, Kale returns to his room and observes a date of Turner's in a panicked state, whom seems to be chased by Turner. Kale uses his binoculars to get a better view and accidentally turns on his video camera flash, revealing Kale's spying to Turner.
After Turner turns off his lights, Kale pans back to Turner's house and Turner is in the window looking straight at Kale. After Kale hides, he witnesses Turner's date leaving and the next morning, Kale enters his kitchen and is shocked to see Turner and his mom flirting with each other (They ran into each other earlier at the grocery store). Before Turner leaves, he implies threats to Kale that go unnoticed by Julie.
After Kale becomes jealous of Ashley being hit on by other teenage boys at a party that Ashley is hosting later that night, Kale attempts to ruin her party and she goes over to confront him. Kale tells her of his deep feelings for her.
Fascinated by what Kale has said, Ashley and Kale begin kissing, and shortly after, they see Turner dragging a heavy bag into his garage with what looks like blood on it. Kale sends Ronnie to break into another car that belongs to Turner with the garage code in it, while Ashley keeps track of Turner at the store.
Ronnie manages to get the garage code at the same time Ashley has lost track of Turner after being distracted. Turner stands right in front of Ashley's car as she is driving and breaks into the car. Turner is calm and tells Ashley that all he wants is some privacy, while insinuating that Ashley may be harmed if she continues to follow him.
Later that night, Ronnie realizes that he left his phone in Turner's car and attempts to get it back. While in Turner’s garage with a video camera, Ronnie finds his phone when the garage door suddenly closes. Ronnie runs and hides in Turner's house and as Kale attempts to rescue him, his ankle monitor goes off.
When the police arrive, Kale informs them that Ronnie is in danger. Hearing the police outside, Turner comes out and allows them to search his garage. Ronnie is nowhere to be found, when Kale suggests they look in the bloody bag. They open it to find a deer that Turner claims he had hit with his car.
When Julie goes to Turner's to talk him into not pressing charges, Ronnie reveals himself to be alive and unharmed. While watching Julie and Turner next door at the same time, Kale watches Ronnie's videotape and he sees the club girl's dead body inside a bag hidden behind an air vent that Ronnie did not see himself.
While Julie is at Turner's, she turns her back and he knocks her out. Turner goes to Kale’s house and knocks out Ronnie and after a struggle with Kale, binds and gags him with duct tape. Turner reveals to Kale that he plans to frame Kale for the murders of Ronnie and Julie and make the motive seem like cabin fever.
Turner then tries to force Kale to write a suicide note to Ashley, but is distracted when Ashley enters and calls for Kale at the same time. They both attack Turner and manage to subdue him.
After Ashley frees Kale in his room, Turner breaks down the door and Kale and Ashley escape by jumping out a window into Ashley's pool. Kale takes a pair of gardening shears and goes to search for his mother in Turner's house, while Ashley goes to warn the police.
While Kale is searching Turner's house, Kale finds a red-hair wig and it is apparent that Turner wore it and dressed in the club girl's clothing after killing her, to drive her car away from his house. An officer alerted to Kale’s bracelet arrives and enters Turner’s house only to have Turner break his neck.
Kale falls through the floor in Turner's basement and lands in a pool of dead bodies in various states of decay. When he climbs out, Kale finds his mom when Turner appears and slashes Kale with a knife. Julie stabs Turner in the leg, giving Kale just enough time to kill Turner with the gardening shears. Kale and Julie exit the house as the police arrive.
After Kale's ankle monitor is removed and he is released from house arrest for "good behavior", the police officer asks Kale's mother to pay for the incarceration fee. Kale and Ashley become a couple and Ronnie (sporting a large bruise, but is otherwise alive) and well, videotapes them kissing.
- Shia LaBeouf as Kale Brecht, a 17-year-old high school student under house arrest who begins to suspect that his neighbor is a serial killer.
- David Morse as Robert Turner, Kale's neighbor who is suspected of being a serial killer.
- Sarah Roemer as Ashley Carlson, Kale's neighbor and love interest who assists in Kale's mission to get to the truth.
- Carrie-Anne Moss as Julie Brecht, Kale's mother who begins to develop a more authoritative treatment towards him.
- Viola Davis as Detective Parker, the detective in charge of Kale's case.
- Aaron Yoo as Ronnie Chu, Kale's best friend
- Jose Pablo Cantillo as Officer Gutierrez, Señor Gutierrez's cousin who loves to torment Kale while abusing his power
- Matt Craven as Daniel Brecht, Kale's father
- Luciano Rauso and Brandon and Daniel Caruso as the Greenwood boys.
- Kevin Quinn as Mr. Carlson
- Elyse Mirto as Mrs. Carlson
- Suzanne Rico and Kent Shocknek as News Anchors
- Rene Rivera as Señor Gutierrez, Kale's Spanish teacher
- Amanda Walsh as Minnie Tyco
- Charles Carroll as Judge
- Gillian Shure as Turner's Club Girl
- Dominic Daniel as Policeman
- Lisa Robin as Big Wheel Mom
- Cindy Lou Adkins as Mrs. Greenwood
The script was written in the 1990s and was optioned. The original studio let the option expire after hearing about Christopher Reeve's remake of Rear Window. It was not until 2004 that the script was rewritten and sold.
Executive Producer Steven Spielberg arranged for Shia LaBeouf to be on the casting shortlist for this film because he was impressed by his work in the Holes. Caruso auditioned over a hundred males for the role in five weeks before settling on LaBeouf as he was looking for someone "who guys would really like and respond to, because he wasn't going to be such a pretty boy".
LaBeouf was attracted to the role because of the director's 2002 film The Salton Sea, which he complimented as one of his favorite films. Before filming started, the two watched the thriller films Rear Window, Straw Dogs and The Conversation starring Gene Hackman. They also viewed the 1989 romantic film Say Anything... and "mixed all the movies together."
LaBeouf says he spoke to people on house arrest and locked himself in a room with the bracelet to feel what the confinement of house arrest is like. He commented in an interview, "...it's hard. I'm not going to say it's harder than jail, but it's tough. House arrest is hard because everything is available. [...] The temptation sucks. That's the torture of it."
Caruso gave him the freedom to improvise whenever necessary to make the dialogue appeal to the current generation.
"Disturbia" was filmed on location in the cities of Whittier, California and Pasadena, California. Filming took place from January 6, 2006 to April 29, 2006. The homes of Kale and Mr. Turner, which were supposed to be across from each other, were actually located in two different cities.
During filming, Shia LaBeouf began a program that saw him gain twenty five pounds of muscle in preparation of his future films Transformers and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull.
According to LaBeouf, David Morse who plays Mr. Turner, did not speak to LaBeouf or any of the other teens while on set. LaBeouf said, "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."
"Disturbia" grossed $80.2 million in North America and $37.6 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $117.8 million, against a budget of $20 million.
The film was released in the United States on April 13th and opened first at the box office with $22.2 million. It remained number one at the box office for the next two weeks, grossing $13 million and $9 million, respectively.
During its fourth week, it earned $5.7 million and finished second behind the record-breaking Spider-Man 3 ($151.1 million).
"Disturbia" received generally positive reviews. Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film a rating of 69%, based on 172 reviews, with an average rating of 6.2/10.
The site's critical consensus reads, "Aside from its clichéd resolution, Disturbia is a tense, subtle thriller with a noteworthy performance from Shia LaBeouf." On Metacritic, the film has a score of 62 out of 100, based on 28 critics, indicating "generally favorable reviews".
The film earned a "two thumbs up" rating from Richard Roeper and A.O. Scott (filling in for Roger Ebert), with Roeper saying, "This is a cool little thriller with big scares and fine performances."
Some criticized the change of atmosphere two-thirds of the way into the film, when the initial pacing and action morphs into that of a "run-of-the-mill slasher horror film".
David Denby of The New Yorker judged the film "a travesty", adding: "The dopiness of it, however, may be an indication not so much of cinematic ineptitude as of the changes in a movie culture that was once devoted to adults and is now rather haplessly and redundantly devoted to kids."