Opening 20 Sep 2007
In the first five minutes, Kale (Shia LaBeouf) and his father go from fly fishing in an idyllic landscape to bleeding in a terrible car accident in which the father dies. Later, a grieving Kale socks his Spanish teacher. A judge gives him three months’ house arrest for assault, and he is fitted for an ankle shackle. His mother (Carrie-Anne Moss), bless her heart, has no pity; she throws out the TV and computer games and draws up a list of chores. Gradually Kale uses his “spatially challenged” environment to check out the neighbors “as a natural side effect of boredom” through binoculars. New-girl-on-the-block Ashley and his schoolmate Ronnie help him pass the time. They decide that neighbor Robert Turner (David Morse) is a serial killer, and their observations turn into a stake-out, “which you can’t have without coffee and doughnuts” according to Ashley.
The first half of the film is full of fun incidents about teenage conflicts, young love, brats, and values. The second half is filmed in traditional, typical scary movie mode as the serial killer hovers in corners or cars; lightning flashes and flashlights flicker; there is a secret passageway; and nobody believes the kids. Director D.J. Caruso has given LaBeouf the opportunity to follow in James Stewart’s footsteps a la Rear Window. He’s no Stewart, but he could be the new John Cusack. Aaron Yoo as Ronnie and Sarah Roemer as Ashley are refreshing, as is the pop music in the background. Caruso’s own young sons play the brats. (Becky Tan)