This nicely nifty little thriller takes Hitchcock’s classic Rear Window and updates it to the era of cell phones and webcams.
Kale (Shia LeBeouf) is under house arrest for hitting a teacher. For three months, he has to wear an ankle bracelet that will bring the police to his house in seconds if he strays past the radius of the transmitter. His mother has turned off the Xbox, iTunes, and the television. The “natural side effect” of sheer boredom is for him to turn his eyes outward. He makes the world his cable channels, switching from one to the other by looking out different windows. One channel shows his lissome new neighbor, swimming, sunning, stretching. Outside another window, a married neighbor is having an affair. And outside another, Robert Turner, could be a serial killer.
At first, it’s fun to spy on him. It feels like some sort of 3D Xbox game. Kale’s friend Ronnie (the very likeable Aaron Yoo) and that pretty neighbor (Sarah Roemer of the Gwenyth-like cheekbones as Ashley) set up a stakeout. But then it gets deadly serious. The watchers are themselves being watched.
LeBeouf continues to develop into one of the most talented and appealing young actors in Hollywood and Morse has a doughy predatory quality with flickers of oily charm. Crisp performances, a creepy bad guy, absorbing plot twists, capable direction by D.J. Caruso (of television’s “The Shield”), who knows how to build tension and when to break it, and a script that has some telling points to make about the way we saturate ourselves with media make this thriller, like Kale’s neighbors, very watchable.
Parents should know that this movie has intense peril and violence and some very grisly and disturbing images, including a dead animal, a fatal car crash, and decomposing bodies. Characters use some strong language and drink alcohol. There is some nudity (including brief shots of pornography being viewed by children), references to adultery, and some kissing.
Families who see this movie should talk about how our access to media helps and hurts our connection to our communities and our sense of privacy.