To say that Shia LaBeouf has lived a strange career would be an understatement. Alternating between good, bad, and WTF are you doing? films, LaBeouf has, if anything, kept his name in the trades. One of his “good” films is climbing the streaming charts, positioning itself at #9 on HBO Max.
Disturbia is a thriller (actually a very good one) starring Shia LaBeouf and demonstrates the type of film he can make and the actor he can be when his head is on properly. The movie smacks of Alfred Hitchcock’s Rear Window and was actually inspired by Hitch’s film.
In Disturbia, Shia LaBeouf is Kale Brecht, a high school student who finds himself at home on house arrest after he punches out a teacher who speaks ill of Kale’s father. The house arrest is to last three months, where Kale must wear an ankle monitor with a proximity sensor, not allowing him to leave the confines of his front yard.
In the beginning, all is coming up roses for Shia Labeouf as Kale, who sits at home playing video games and watching television. But his mother Julie (Carrie-Anne Moss of the Matrix franchise) soon gets upset at his laziness, so she cancels cable and the internet. Heaven forbid.
Now bored, Kale begins to spy on his neighborhood for entertainment, an act Shia Labeouf really leans into here. One night as Kale monitors his surroundings, he spies on his neighbor Robert Turner (a creepy David Morse) returning home in his 1960’s Ford Mustang with a dented fender. The Mustang matches the description Kale heard on a news report of a serial killer on the loose.
Kale’s spying also attracts the attention of his cute neighbor Ashley (Sarah Roemer). Though Kale is trouble in her eyes, Ashley begins to hang out with him more often. Kale tells Ashley of his suspicions of his neighbor Robert, and the two team up to spy on him a bit more. The chemistry between Shia LaBeouf and Roemer here really works. They also bring Kale’s best friend Ronnie in for assistance.
As they begin their surveillance on Robert, they spy on him bringing home a woman. They then see the woman running through the house in a panic. Immediately the trio thinks they’ve found the serial killer, that is, until the young woman exits the house, leaving in her car.
The next day Ashley follows Robert to the grocery store to keep an eye on him while Ronnie goes to his house to steal the code for the garage door. But Ashley gets more than she bargained for when Robert catches her, scaring her into telling Kale she is done with the spy business.
When Robert arrives home before Ronnie can get out, Kale jumps into action trying to rescue him. But Kale’s proximity monitor goes off, causing the police to arrive and resulting in more trouble for Kale. Ashley attempts to defuse the situation by visiting Robert to ask him not to press charges. Meanwhile, Ronnie has found his way out, allowing Kale to view the video Ronnie made while running through Robert’s home. In that video, Kale is able to see a body wrapped in plastic in a vent. When Ashley doesn’t return but instead Robert shows up, Kale knows that his first instinct about Robert was correct.
Disturbia is a nice thriller. Shia LaBeouf is in fine form, handling the thrills with aplomb. Steven Spielberg was the executive producer for Disturbia and it was he who got LaBeouf in front of director D.J. Caruso as Spielberg loved LaBeouf’s work on the film Holes. Although LaBeouf was Spielberg’s choice, Caruso ended up auditioning over 100 males for the part. He eventually settled on LaBeouf and for this movie, rightfully so.
The original script was penned back in the ‘90s but was scrapped when the late Christopher Reeve decided to remake Hitchcock’s Rear Window. The script was finally rewritten in 2004 by Christopher Landon and Carl Ellsworth. Caruso was given a $20 million budget and saw a nice return of almost $120 million at the box office.
For Shia LaBeouf, Disturbia came when he was making smart decisions. He had just come off filming the late Bill Paxton’s The Greatest Game Ever Played to nice critical reviews and his role as Kale in Disturbia kept him on a path that would eventually lead to his big franchise, Transformers.
Shia LaBeouf was again probably helped by Spielberg in getting the role of Sam Witwicky in Michael Bay’s Transformers, not that he truly needed any help. LaBeouf showed he could handle lead roles and as Sam, he did.
Shia LaBeouf would return two more times as Witwicky for Bay. He reprised his role in the sequels Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen and Transformers: Dark of the Moon. LaBeouf’s relationship with Spielberg also got him the role as Indiana Jones’s son in the misfire of a film, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. While the film didn’t sit well with Indiana Jones fans, you can’t blame LaBeouf for wanting to be a part of such a successful franchise.
Shia LaBeouf’s personal life began to deteriorate in 2014 when he was arrested for disorderly conduct. Following the arrest and release, LaBeouf underwent treatment for alcoholism.
The treatment held for a while but in 2017, LaBeouf was arrested again for disorderly conduct and public intoxication. His troubles would resurface once again in 2020 when he was charged with battery and theft. LaBeouf was also sued later in 2020 by English singer FKA Twigs. The two previously dated from 2018-2019 and she was suing him for sexual battery and assault as well as emotional distress.
Shia LaBeouf has since stepped away from any acting gigs in another attempt to get clean and sober.
It’s a shame because when he is sober, he can produce fantastic work, as evidenced by Disturbia. You can catch Shia LaBeouf in the thriller on the HBO Max streamer.