Oh to be young and fly-fishing with dad on the most photogenic location the second unit could find. If Kale (Shia LeBeouf) whose parents named him after their second favorite salad-bar item had been paying attention, he'd know tragedy always strikes within the first five minutes of a thriller. Dad is killed in a harrowing accident on the way home. Kale is so grief-stricken and bewildered by what this will have to do with the rest of the movie, he falls asleep in his Spanish class. Roused, he punches out his teacher and presto he's in an MTV-style update of "Rear Window." Cast in the Jimmy Stewart role house arrest sounds better than a lame injury he spies on his neighbors and ogles the hot new girl next door. With a view like this, goodbye pesky dad-mangled-in-hideous-pileup memories, hello multiple angles of a flimsy bikini and a chance to catch a killer!
Kale is sentenced to three months (bummer!) that just happen to coincide with summer vacation. It's all Xbox and iTunes until a stray newspaper convinces him that his neighbor (David Morse) is a notorious serial murderer (weird!). Kale doesn't have any proof. The neighbor only mows his lawn twice a day, drives the same car as the description in the newspaper and stores carved-up roadkill in his garage. Other than that, there's nothing strange about him. Kale is not convinced. Along with best friend Ronnie (Aaron Yoo) and that Ashley neighbor chick (Sarah Roemer) who is just dying to hang out with a guy who can't leave his mom's house, he continues to monitor the suspect, kind of like a pizza-party stakeout (sweet!).
"Disturbia" is like a "Silence of the Lambs" for kids on their first date. Facile and dumb, it's the kind of movie that portrays gruesome multiple homicides as little more than an entertaining interruption to a make-out session. Most of the ideas are hack jobs, scenes torn from other movies, and others not much better. Whether despite or the reason behind its No. 1 box-office opening, the whole thing is pointless and absurd. Most people have to fight local ordinances to build a deck, but according to movies like "Disturbia," madmen are casually building labyrinths of torture at the end of every other cul-de-sac. (PG-13) 104 min. * S