Disturbia (2007) - Dread Central
Connect with us


Disturbia (2007)



Disturbia poster (click for larger image)Starring Shia LaBeouf, David Morse, Sarah Roemer, Aaron Yoo, Carrie-Anne Moss

Directed by D. J. Caruso

It’s a good thing I didn’t do any research into the parties behind Disturbia before seeing it. Otherwise, I might have brought extra baggage into the theatre rather than just walking in, sitting back, and letting the film do its thing. And what Disturbia did was entertain the hell out of me for a solid 104 minutes from start to finish. It opens with a poignant father/son fishing expedition, careens into action mode immediately afterwards with a spectacular car crash, gives us a bit of character development and exposition, and then morphs seamlessly into an edge-of-your-seat thriller for the duration. Let’s get one thing out of the way right now. Yes, it owes a lot to Rear Window, but by the last half hour I wasn’t thinking about Alfred or Jimmy. No siree. The person on my mind was Michael — as in Myers — only a maskless, human version with just a dash of Hopkins’ Hannibal (sans any trace of an accent) thrown in for good measure. Maybe those disappointed in the upcoming Halloween remake can find some small solace in Disturbia instead.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. What about those filmmakers? Who the heck are they, and why do their names strike fear — and, at the same time, high expectations — in the hearts of so many genre fans? Let’s start with director Caruso. Does the title The Salton Sea ring any bells? It’s only one of the most badass undercover cop movies ever made. Val Kilmer, Peter Sarsgaard, and Vincent D’Onofrio give performances of a lifetime. But then came Taking Lives. *shudder* Does it get much worse? Thankfully Disturbia is much closer to Sea than Lives so I’ll blame the studio for the horrendous Jolie/Hawke/Sutherland misfire and put Caruso back on my A list. He keeps Disturbia from becoming the dull, formulaic murder mystery we’ve all seen a million times by somehow inserting a freshness into both the lead characters and the villain. I’m gonna go out on a limb and say it was magic, pure and simple movie magic of the type audiences used to enjoy back in Hitchcock’s heyday when it wasn’t so much about box office as it was escapism into another set of lives and problems. What with the type of horror movies we’ve been subjected to lately, it makes sense that a throwback, seemingly throwaway film like Disturbia would be the one that surprises and satisfies the most.

Disturbia (click for larger image)So, whom can we thank for coming up with the script that set this chain of events in motion? The story and one half of the screenplay are credited to Christopher Landon, whom I admit I’m not familiar with other than knowing (after checking him out on the IMDB) that he’s the late Michael Landon’s son. Good genes apparently lead to good narratives. His partner in this endeavor was none other than Carl Ellsworth, the scribe of Red Eye, one of the worst, most implausible messes audiences were subjected to back in 2005. What made it even sadder was the fact that Ellsworth wrote one of the best, most beloved Buffy episodes ever: Season 2’s “Halloween,” which leads me to believe that the failures of Red Eye were the result of execution rather than source material. That idea seems to be borne out in Disturbia since there’s not a moment in the film when events don’t play out in the most organic way possible. In other words, unlike in Red Eye or your typical slasher type film, nobody does anything extremely stupid in Disturbia — other than a cop, and by that point you’re kind of hoping he gets his comeuppance anyway so it’s forgivable. Ellsworth and Landon deserve a lot of credit for their dialogue and pacing. The characters sound like they should and act like they would given their set of circumstances. Nothing feels forced or phony although there is a moment during the final chase sequence when things seems to be dragging on a little too long, but then it gets quickly back on track and reinserts the viewer right back into the fray.

If you haven’t seen the trailer, then you may be wondering what “fray” I’m speaking of. Disturbia is, in a nutshell, the tale of Kale Brecht (LaBeouf), a high school boy who has been sentenced to house arrest over the summer months for striking a teacher and begins to suspect his reclusive neighbor is a psychopath who picks up women and kills them. He’s aided in his investigation into this theory by his wisecracking buddy Ronnie (Yoo) and Ashley, the hot new girl next-door (Roemer) whose parents moved to suburbia in a desperate attempt to keep daddy dearest from cheating quite so much. Fate has, of course, brought them all together; and as one would imagine, Kale develops instant hots for Ashley, she teases him a bit before falling for his ample charms, and Caruso teases the audience with whether or not Mr. Turner (Morse), the killer in question, is guilty or just the victim of Kale’s overactive imagination and boredom as a result of being homebound. All this over a kickin’ soundtrack that includes such diverse acts as Minnie Ripperton, Afroman, Buckcherry, and Lou Rawls. Binoculars, camcorders, and cell phones play prominent roles in the kids’ activities, as you’d expect given our current society, but the technology never intrudes. Both LaBeouf and Roemer (man, that’s a lot of vowels!) are likable and immensely talented, thereby proving that you really can find young actors these days who are able to bump up a project’s quality level rather than just induce groans of “no, please, not another fresh face!”

Disturbia (click for larger image)Kale’s mom (Moss) is a tad underdeveloped, but we feel for her as she struggles to simultaneously support and reprimand him when the shit hits the fan and events start spiraling out of control. Moss does a lot with the little she’s given, and I must make at least a small mention of Matt Craven, who plays Kale’s father. The guy has been working since 1979, and while you may not know his name, you’ll surely recognize his face. He isn’t given much screen time here but brings a first-rate touch of class and professionalism to the project. And don’t fuck with David Morse. The guy can play evil. Sure, he was all nicey nice on St. Elsewhere back in the day, but over the intervening years his acting chops have developed exponentially. Mr. Turner may not produce a lot of visible blood and gore for the more hardcore viewer to cheer about, but his menace and killer instincts are clear enough that the character won’t be soon forgotten. I know I took a second look at a few of my neighbors when I got home just in case a Mr. Turner might be lurking under their seemingly normal veneers.

If you are part of the crowd that’s avoiding Disturbia because you think you’ve seen it all before, think again, head on over to the multiplex, and give it a shot. It may not be the best horror movie you’ll see all year, but I’m willing to bet that if you let yourself get caught up in Kale’s plight, you’ll stay engrossed and in a heightened state of suspense. It proves a PG-13 film with a cast made up predominately of young adults that steers clear of gruesome effects and in-your-face violence can still be interesting and enjoyable. Certainly no one wants a steady diet of such fare, but it’s definitely fun to see a shining example every couple of years. Disturbia fits the bill perfectly and should ride its success well into the next decade.

4 out of 5

Discuss Disturbia in our forums!

Get this site 100% Ad Free Support Us on Patreon!
Continue Reading


Through the Cracks – Trick or Treat (1986) Review



Starring Marc Price, Tony Fields, Lisa Orgolini, Glen Morgan, Gene Simmons, and Ozzy Osbourne

Directed by Charles Martin Smith

I have been a horror fan for more than half of my life at this point. Meaning I have seen most of the quality horror offerings under the sun. But that said, every once in awhile a classic sneaks past so we wanted to create this “Through the Cracks” review section for such films.

Case in point, I had never seen the Halloween horror flick Trick or Treat until last night. I know, right? How the hell did that happen? But these things do happen and so for everyone that has seen the flick a million times, this will be a review of the movie from a super horror fan that – at the age of 33 – is seeing Trick or Treat for the very first time.

Now let’s get to it.

First off you have to love the movie’s plot. Mixing horror and heavy metal seems like a given, yet preciously few films Frankenstein these two great tastes together.

Like many of you out there, I am a big metal fan as well as a big horror fan. The two seem to go together like chocolate and peanut butter. Or Jason and horny campers.

I dig bands like Black Sabbath, Judas Priest, and even those hair metal bands (Dokken forever!) and I’m well aware of the legends surrounding playing these records backward.

Off the top of my head, the only other flick that combines the two to this degree is the (relatively) recent horror-comedy Deathgasm. I say more horror-metal flicks! Or should we call it Metal-Horror? Yeah, that’s a much more metal title.

It only makes sense that someone, somewhere would take the idea of “What if Ozzy Osbourne really was evil and came back from the dead (you know, if he had passed away during his heyday) to torment a loner fan?” Great premise for a movie!

And Trick or Treat delivers on the promise of this premise in spades. Sammi Curr is an epic hybrid of the best of the best metal frontmen and his resurrection via speaker is one of the great horror birthing scenes I have seen in all my years.

Add to that the film feels like a lost entry in the Nightmare on Elm Street franchise. More specifically the film feels like it would fit snugly in between two of my favorite entries in that series, Dream Warriors and The Dream Master.

This movie is 80’s as all f*ck and I loved every minute of it.

And speaking of how this film brought other minor classics to the forefront of my brain, let’s talk about the film’s central villain, Sammi Curr. This guy looks like he could share an epic horror band with the likes of Mary Lou from Hello Mary Lou: Prom Night II and the Drill Killer rocker from Slumber Party Massacre Part II.

Picture that band for a moment and tell me they aren’t currently playing the most epic set in Hell as we speak. I say let’s see an Avengers-style series of films based on these minor horror icons sharing the stage and touring the country’s high school proms!

In the end Trick or Treat has more than it’s fair share of issues. Sammi Curr doesn’t enter the film until much too late and is dispatched way too easily. Water? Really? That’s it?

That said, the film is still a blast as director Charles Martin Smith keeps the movie rocking like an 80’s music video with highlights being Sammi’s rock show massacre at the prom and his final assault on our hero teens in the family bathroom.

Rockstar lighting for days.

Even though the film has issues (zero blood, a rushed ending) none of that mattered much to this horror hound as the film was filled to the brim with striking horror/metal imagery and a killer soundtrack via Fastway and composer Christopher Young.

Plus you’ve got to love the cameos by Gene Simmons (boy, his character just dropped right out of the movie, huh?) and Ozzy Osbourne as a mad-as-hell Preacher that isn’t going to take any more of this devil music. P.S. Watch for the post-credits tag.

More than a few of my closest horror buddies have this film placed high on their annual Halloween must-watch lists. And after (finally) viewing the film for myself, I think I just may have to add the film to mine as well. Preferably on VHS.

Trick or Treat is an 80’s horror classic. If you dig films like Popcornand if you put the film off like I did, remedy that tonight and slap a copy in the old VHS/DVD player.

Just don’t play it backward… God knows what could happen.

All said and done, I enjoyed the hell out of my first viewing of Trick or Treat. But what do YOU think of the film? Make sure to hit us up and let us know below or on social media!

Now bring on Trick or Treat 2: The Prom Band from Hell, featuring Sammi Curr, Mary Lou Maloney, and Atanas Ilitch’s Driller Killer from Slumber Party Massacre Part II!

  • Trick or Treat (1986) 3.5


Charles Martin Smith’s Trick or Treat is a sure-fire Halloween treat for fans of 80’s horror flicks, as well as fans of heavy metal music.

User Rating 3.25 (12 votes)
Get this site 100% Ad Free Support Us on Patreon!
Continue Reading


AHS: Cult Review – Clowns, Cults, Politics, and Peters



Starring Evan Peters, Sarah Paulson, Billie Lourd, Cheyenne Jackson, Frances Conroy, Mare Winningham, and Allison Pill

Created by Ryan Murphy and Brad Falchuk


It’s here. We’ve reached the end. The newest season of “American Horror Story” has ended and now we are here to provide you guys with our season review of AHS: Cult.

Spoiler free.

To start things off let me say I’m not the world’s biggest fan of “American Horror Story”. It breaks down like this: I enjoyed the absolute hell out of the first season of the series (“Murder House”), couldn’t get through “Asylum” (I know, I know, I’ve tried), dug “Coven” for what it was, really enjoyed “Freak Show”, and again I couldn’t get into “Hotel” or “Roanoke”.

That’s the story of me and “American Horror Story”. Plain And simple. But what did I think of the new seventh season of the notorious horror anthology series? Let’s find out.

Back when the seventh season of AHS was first announced (then going by the title “AHS: Election”) I was immediately intrigued by the new season because I heard it would not include any supernatural elements. Like the fourth season, “Freak Show”.

Now I’m a fan of ghosts and weird creature-men with drills for d*cks, don’t get me wrong. But the series has thus far relied almost exclusively on horrors of the supernatural variety (other than “Freak Show”) so this major change of pace was again welcomed by this guy.

Instead of vampires, aliens, and witches this season relied on terrors of the mind. Psychological fears and anxieties. The horrors man does to man. Deep issues.

Oh, and clowns. Like a lot of clowns.

But just because this new season didn’t include anything supernatural, that doesn’t mean the 11-episode season wasn’t filled with twisted visuals and horrifically disturbing acts. No, sir. This season boasted some showstoppers including S&M, gimps, and a house of horrors that wouldn’t be out of place in a Rob Zombie flick. It was all good.

But let’s backtrack a bit here.

Allow me to rundown the season’s plot for those who may be unaware. “AHS: Cult” tells the tale of a world post-election night. The literal dawn of Trump’s America. In one corner we have Sarah Paulson’s soccer mom, trying to fight through life with a series of crippling phobias (including clowns, holes, blood, and being a good person).

And in the other corner, we have Evan Peter’s angry, white (blue-haired) male, looking to seize Trump’s new position of power to bring about the end of… Actually, I want this to be a spoiler-free season review, so I’m just going to say the dude’s got big plans.

Like Manson-size plans. Let’s leave it at that.

With these two characters established, the new season then proceeds to send them spiraling into a collision course of political sabotage, intrigue, and clown-based nope, nope, nope-ing that can only end with one – or both – of them dead as Dillinger.

Overall “AHS: Cult” belonged end-to-end to Mr. Evan Peters. The young actor has continued to show his striking range from season to season of Ryan Murphy’s horror show and this season was no different. Peters’ turn as not only Kai, the blue-haired leader of the titular cult, but as infamous leaders such as David Koresh, Jim Jones, and Charles Manson – to name a few – owed this season.

I can only hope he doesn’t pull a Jessica Lange and opt-out of more AHS next year.

Speaking of top performances, “AHS: Cult ” showcases some other chilling and memorable turns with Alison Pill’s strangely vulnerable, put-upon wife character being the best next to Peters in my eyes. This actress needs to be in more films/TV!

Along with Pill, actress Billie Lourd killed it time and time again. The “Scream Queens” breakout star and Carrie Fisher spawn was yet again a highlight in her second Ryan Murphy series. Bet she has the starring role in next season. Mark my words.

Add to that, the season also boasts a handful of fun cameos, including John Carroll Lynch’s return as Twisty the Clown, Emma Roberts as a bitchy reporter that will do anything to end up on top, and Lena Dunham as SCUM Manifesto writer Valerie Solanas. The cameo cast killed it and I wish they would have been present for more episodes. What are you gonna do?

On the sour side of the season, I didn’t dig Sarah Paulson’s character. At all. But I’m sure that was the point. Right? I’m still not sure. But, boy, I wouldn’t even want to be stuck in line behind her at a Starbucks for three minutes, let alone spend the better part of this season’s 11-hours with her and her whiny bullshite. Urgh.

That said, she pulled it out by the finale. That’s all I’ll say.

In the end, I enjoyed this season as much as – if not more – than any other of the series. “Murder House” will still no doubt go on as my favorite season of the series, but “AHS: Cult” will rank third after season one and “Freak Show”.

While I was on the fence about the season after three episodes, the show ended up ditching Paulson’s character (and/or shifting her arch) after a lull so the episodes picked up quickly. Whenever the season turned its focus back towards Peters (in whichever incarnation he was playing at the time) the show got better and better. Every time.

Not a bad way to spend my Tuesday night for the past 11 weeks.

Bring on season 12.

  • American Horror Story: Cult (2018)


The seventh season of Ryan Murphy’s American Horror Story was Evan Peters’ show all the way through. The young actor pulled out all the stops time and time again to make what may have been a lackluster supernatural-free season a winner.

User Rating 4.11 (18 votes)
Get this site 100% Ad Free Support Us on Patreon!
Continue Reading


The Axiom Review – A Stylish and Clever Slice of Independent Horror




Starring Hattie Smith, Zac Titus, Nicole Dambro

Directed by Nicholas Woods

The Axiom is an ambitious, well directed, impressively acted and stunningly shot independent horror film that has just a few, teensy little flaws holding it back from greatness (and therefore will have to settle for just being really, really good, instead).

The first thing you realize when watching The Axiom is that this is a beautiful film. Everything is framed and shot in a lush and stylish manner, but one which is always tonally appropriate for the scene.

The second thing you’ll notice, and keep noticing as the film plays out, is that the movie really struck gold with this cast. Not only is there a total lack of the sort of stilted and unnatural acting seen in countless other microbudget horror affairs, but the performances are genuinely fantastic across the board. The main characters are believably chill and relatably normal in the early scenes, and the acting remains just as impressive once things start getting a bit more… intense. It’s not often that an independent horror film has so many good performances that it makes it hard to pick the movie’s acting VIP, but that is undeniably the case here. Taylor Flowers delivers what is probably the showiest performance (and does it very well, indeed), but the entire cast really is quite good.

The central premise of the film is both interesting and original, and touches upon the real life fact (given some recent attention in the ‘Missing 411’ books and documentary) that a lot more people sure seem to go missing out in the woods than seems reasonable, while simultaneously weaving all sorts of folklore, fairy tales and urban legends into the mix. It’s also clever in the way that it very naturally reveals aspects to the relationships between characters that serve to later – or sometimes retroactively – explain some of the more questionable decisions they make or attitudes they display. While that may sound like screenwriting 101, it’s surprising how many films fail to do this. The Axiom rewards the viewer’s attention in other ways as well, with many aspects of the movie that initially feel odd or unnatural receiving reasonable explanations (within the context of the movie) by the end. It’s not quite as challenging (or as rewarding) in this regard as, say, something like Session 9, but it does add a nice layer of complexity to the storytelling.

The film’s score, by Leo Kaliski, is also quite good. There may be a moment here or there where the music hits an overly familiar beat, but overall it not only fits the movie’s tone, but does quite a bit to help set that tone as well.

The only thing that I don’t feel the movie quite pulls off – and I’m trying to be vague here, because I feel like the less you know going into this film, the better – is some of the makeup effects work. The gore stuff is very well executed, but some of the other stuff feels like it was crafted with the intention of shooting it in a more… stylized manner. Instead, filmed as it is here, the result is sometimes less than impressive and can fail to make the impact that the movie seems to be implying that it should. And while some of what the makeup effects lack in execution is made up for with the ingenuity and creativity of their design, it’s still a bit of a shame when they don’t quite pull them off because, aside from a few niggles that I have with the writing, the effects are the only aspect of the film that occasionally fails to live up to the high level of technical proficiency that The Axiom otherwise demonstrates.


  • Man, the acting in this movie is really good. The dialogue may stumble once or twice, but these actors always sell it anyway.
  • Give back Mia Sara’s DNA, Hattie Smith!
  • If you’re going to put your female lead in shorts this small, I hope you’re not sensitive to viewers unleashing a nonstop parade of “Has anyone seen my pants / OH GOD WHERE ARE MY PANTS!” jokes.
  • “You just pop this here ‘Blair Witch Stick Person / Anarchy sign’ sticker up on that there windshield of yours, and them park rangers? Well – heh heh – they won’t bother you none, no sir.” Hmmmmm…
  • The film really is shot amazingly well – better than a lot of mainstream releases. Cinematographer Sten Olson has a real future ahead of him.
  • As does writer / director Nicholas Woods, for that matter. Any director who can get this level of quality out of their cast and crew on their first ever film is someone to keep an eye on.
  • “I’ll make a run for it and get help,” says the female lead, and I’m like “Yeah, let her go – she has no pants to weigh her down.”
  • The gore effects in the movie are both realized and utilized very well.
  • Welcome back to horror movies, “I’ll be right back” dialogue spoken unironically by and/or to ill-fated characters.
  • The Axiom


In the end, The Axiom is a solid and entertaining flick that manages to wring a level of quality and originality out of the somewhat tired “Don’t Go in the Woods” horror subgenre not seen since 2012’s Cabin in the Woods. The cinematography and acting are hugely impressive, it features a nice, unnerving score, the premise is original and captivating, and the whole thing moves at a nice pace that helps keep the film’s flaws from dragging it down.

User Rating 4 (17 votes)
Get this site 100% Ad Free Support Us on Patreon!
Continue Reading

Go Ad Free!

Support Dread Central on Patreon!

Join the Box of Dread Mailing List

* indicates required

From Around the Web