Kale Brecht (Shia LaBeouf) and his father Daniel (Matt Craven) are enjoying a fishing trip. While Kale is driving their vehicle, Kale is talking to his mother Julie (Carrie-Ann Moss) on a cellphone. Kale gives the cellphone to Daniel. As soon as Kale looks at Daniel, they get into a multi-car accident. Kale is injured in the crash but Daniel is killed. One year later, near the end of the school year, Kale is still traumatized by his father's death. He is reprimanded about his school work by his Spanish teacher, Señor Gutierrez (Rene Rivera); and when Gutierrez mentions Kale's father, Kale attacks him. For the assault, he is sentenced by a sympathetic judge to three months under house arrest with an ankle monitor and a proximity sensor. Detective Parker (Viola Davis) explains the do's and don'ts of the system to Kale and Julie. The officer (Jose Pablo Cantillo) joyfully monitoring him follows suit by informing him that he is his teacher's cousin. Initially, he satiates his boredom by playing video games but, shortly thereafter, Julie logs out his subscriptions to the iTunes Music Store and Xbox Live and cuts the power cord of his television to get him to learn a lesson.
Kale's boredom leads him to watch the neighborhood, including the two neighbor boys who play pranks on him, his next-door neighbor Robert Turner (David Morse), and Ashley Carlson (Sarah Roemer), the new girl in town. One night, Kale becomes suspicious of Robert Turner, who returns home in a 1967 Ford Mustang with a dented fender that matches the description given on a news report of an errant serial killer. Kale's best friend Ronnie (Aaron Yoo) visits to spy on Ashley and, when they accidentally alert her to their hijinks, she joins them in spying on Turner. Kale observes a young woman Turner had picked up from a nightclub as she escapes the house in a panic, but later appears to leave the home in her car. Ashley throws a party and teases Kale, knowing he is watching. He plays music loudly, and when Ashley comes over, Kale admits that he has not only watched but has learned fine details about her by doing so. The two make out, distracting each other, while blood is shown splattering on Turner's windows.
Later, as Kale and Ashley watch, Turner is seen dragging a heavy bag to his garage, on which Ashley claims to have noticed blood. Kale insists that Ashley and Ronnie assist him in spying on Turner, with Turner confronting Ashley in her car with a calm, but threatening manner, after she follows him. Meanwhile, Ronnie successfully receives the garage door code and breaks in with a camera after losing his phone in one of Turner's car. When Ronnie examines the bag, he confirms the bag has blood and hair in it, but the garage door closes, and Ronnie flees into the house. Kale leaves to rescue him but alerts the police when he leaves his property; the police search the garage and show Kale the bag contains a roadkilled deer. Julie then goes across the street to talk to Turner to ask him not to press charges against Kale while Ronnie reveals that he has escaped safely from Turner's House. When Kale is watching the tape of Ronnie's running through Turner's house, Kale notices a dead body in plastic in a vent on the tape. Turner then knocks out Julie next door and then enters Kale's house, knocking out Ronnie and after struggling with Kale, binding and gagging Kale with duct tape. Turner reveals his plan to frame Kale for the murders of Ronnie and Julie before committing suicide.
As Turner has Kale writing a suicide letter to Ashley, she enters the home, giving Kale a chance to flee, as the two barricade themselves in a room, where Ashley unties Kale from his bindings. Turner tries to break the door down, and the two flee out the window. Kale trips the bracelet to alert the police, then enters Turner's home to search for his mother. In a hidden room, Kale finds evidence of Turner's previous murders, including their credentials, and a room with surgical tools and freezers of ice. Officer Gutierrez arrives at the scene, but he is killed when Turner breaks his neck. Proceeding to the basement of the house, Kale falls through the floor where decayed bodies are hidden, and finds his mother bound and gagged underneath the foundation. Turner suddenly appears from behind Julie and, in the ensuing confrontation, Kale fatally stabs Turner with a pair of gardening shears, killing him.
In the aftermath, Kale is shown having his ankle bracelet removed by the authorities for good behavior, getting back at the two boys from earlier pranks and making out with Ashley on his sofa, while Ronnie is playfully video taping them.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.
Aaron Yoo as Ronnie Chu, Kale's best friend
Viola Davis as Detective Parker, the detective in charge of Kale's case.
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 LaBeouf to be on the casting shortlist for this film because he was impressed by LaBeouf's work on 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.
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, 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 13 and opened first at the box office with $22.2 million. The film remained number one at the box office for the next two weeks, grossing $13 million and $9 million, respectively. In its fourth week, it earned $5.7 million and finished second behind the record-breaking Spider-Man 3 ($151.1 million).
Review aggregation website Rotten Tomatoes gives the film an approval rating of 69% based on 172 reviews and 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."
The Sheldon Abend Revocable Trust filed a lawsuit against Steven Spielberg, DreamWorks, its parent company Viacom, and Universal Studios on September 5, 2008. The suit alleged that Disturbia infringed on the rights to Cornell Woolrich's 1942 short story "It Had to Be Murder" (the basis for the classic Alfred Hitchcock film Rear Window), and that DreamWorks never bothered to obtain motion picture rights to the intellectual property and evaded compensating the rights holder for the alleged appropriation. (Ownership of the copyright in Woolrich's original story "It Had to Be Murder" and its use as the basis for the movie Rear Window was previously litigated before the United States Supreme Court in Stewart v. Abend, 495 U.S. 207 (1990).) Contrary to some media reports, the claim was based on the original Woolrich short story, not the movie Rear Window.
This claim was rejected by the U.S. District Court in Abend v. Spielberg, 748 F.Supp.2d 200 (S.D.N.Y. 2010), on the basis that the original Woolrich short story and Disturbia are only similar at a high level of generality and abstraction. "Their similarities derive entirely from unprotectible elements and the total look and feel of the works is so distinct that no reasonable trier of fact could find the works substantially similar within the meaning of copyright law." Disturbia contained many subplots not in the original short story.
After the dismissal of the copyright claim in federal court, the Abend Trust filed another lawsuit in California state court against Universal Studios and the Hitchcock Estate on October 28, 2010, for a breach of contract claim based on earlier agreements which allegedly restricted the use of ideas from the original Woolrich short story and the movie Rear Window whether or not the ideas are copyright protectable, that the defendants had entered into with the Abend Trust after the Supreme Court's Stewart v. Abend decision.
The film was released on DVD and HD DVD on August 7, 2007 and on Blu-ray Disc on March 15, 2008. In the "Making of Disturbia" section of the DVD's special features section it is revealed that LaBeouf and Morse did not have much contact off-set, so as to make the fight scenes at the end of the movie as realistic as possible.
Disturbia: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack is a soundtrack to the film of the same name, released on March 4, 2007 in the United States by Lakeshore Records.
Disturbia: Original Motion Picture Score is a score to the film of the same name. It is composed by Geoff Zanelli, conducted by Bruce Fowler and produced by Skip Williamson. It was released on July 10, 2007 in the United States by Lakeshore Records.