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Kale Brecht (Shia LaBeouf) is a troubled suburban teenager who loses his dad in a gruesome car accident. A year afterward, still raw from his dad's death and slipping behind in school, he assaults his Spanish teacher after he asks what Kale's father would've thought of his poor performance in class. He ends up getting sentenced to three months in house arrest, controlled by a GPS bracelet around his leg that only allows him to move within an electronic perimeter around his house. An immediate response alert is triggered by the bracelet if Kale ever steps outside this area.

Kale's shaky relationship with his mother Julie (Carrie-Anne Moss) gets worse when she cuts off his TV and internet access, while the policeman supervising his home detention Officer Gutiérrez (Jose Pablo Cantillo) is the happily vengeful cousin of the Spanish teacher, which turns Kale's situation from bad to worse. Imprisoned in his house, he has nothing to do all day but look out of his window and watch his neighbors. Monitoring their activities every waking hour, he sees one neighbor having an affair with his maid, kids watching porn when they are alone, the strange Robert Turner (David Morse) who may or may not be a killer, and the new girl next door Ashley (Sarah Roemer), who spends more time on her rooftop than inside her actual house. After meeting Ashley and watching her undress with her blinds open, she catches him in the act but eventually gets pulled into his obsessive search for the killer in the neighborhood.

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Heavily inspired by the plot of Alfred Hitchcock's classic Rear Window.

Not to be confused with the Rihanna song.


This film has examples of the following tropes:

  • Adults Are Useless:
    • Averted when the police (even reluctantly Gutiérrez) are actually willing to search Turner's garage at Kale's frantic behest.
    • Kale's mother plays this straight until the last ten minutes of the movie. However, Kale's mom has some reasoning as she is more worried that Kale is going nuts and going to do something that will result in him being taken away from her by the police. That, and his evidence isn't the strongest.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: Kale's Spanish teacher asks this moments before getting assaulted by Kale:
    "What would your father think?"
  • Asian Airhead: Ronnie, Kale's dumb and hyperactive best friend. He thoroughly subverts the Asian and Nerdy stereotype.
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  • Asshole Victim: Officer Gutiérrez, who happens to be the Spanish teacher's cousin, holds a grudge against Kale (even though him harassing Kale out of pleasure was mostly Played for Laughs early in the movie) and ends up having his neck snapped by Turner.
  • Badass Pacifist: Kale gets back at the bratty kids nonviolently at the end of the movie.
  • Binocular Shot: Used extensively.
  • Black Sheep: Kale has became this in his mother's eyes, due to his failure to rescue her late husband and then being put under house arrest following the assault on his Spanish teacher.
  • Bound and Gagged: Happens to both Kale and his mother with duct tape. In a rare case in suspense films, this actually doesn't prevent them from retaliating. As a matter of fact, Kale's mother is at her most useful while bound and gagged in Turner's basement.
  • Bratty Half-Pint: The little kids, though Laser-Guided Karma hits them in a bulls eye when Kale is freed from house arrest and he tells their mom that they've been watching porn. From what we can see in the end, she loses it.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Even after hearing what Kale did to his teacher, the bratty kids think Kale is someone they should mess with. They pay for this later.
  • Butt-Monkey: Kale does through a few moments, like being tormented by his bratty neighbors.
  • Cassandra Truth: Kale tells this about Turner. Naturally, nobody listens to him because he didn't have enough evidence.
  • Chained by Fashion: Ashley invokes it by customizing Kale's GPS anklet with paints.
  • Deceased Parents Are the Best: Kale's father was a loving dad before he tragically passed away.
  • Does Not Like Shoes: Ashley is barefoot at home or when she goes up to read in her roof. She even hosts her party that way, and is still unshod when coming to Kale's house to berate him for spying on her. Kale is also seen barefoot at home, though not as much as her.
  • Dude, Where's My Reward?: Kale gets off his house arrest early due to "good behavior," gets the girl, and gets payback on the boys. Now, compared to losing his father, being put in house arrest in the first place, the resulting disconnect from society that made him the stalker that discovered the killer, which in turn puts his life, his mother's life, and his friends' lives in mortal danger. Although, his reputation in town did go from "that nutty kid under house arrest" to "that kid who saved us from the serial killer."
  • Flipping the Bird: Kale flips Ronnie off when Ronnie tries to film Kale and Ashley making out.
  • Girl Next Door: Ashley is a rather unusual example of this. Especially for her love of reading books on her rooftop.
  • Harmful to Minors: While Kale is 17, he had to watch his father die right in front of him.
  • Hero with Bad Publicity: Kale, thanks to the assault on his Spanish teacher, he is this in the eyes of the neighborhood, his mother, and the police.
  • Hollywood Nerd: Kale and Ashley, in their own ways.
  • Hot-Blooded: Kale, which naturally conflicts with being literally restrained in house arrest.
  • Humiliation Conga: The first part of the film is this for Kale. He is sentenced to house arrest for three months during summer holidays. Then his mother cuts off his internet access and TV cables, and in the end he is reduced to making towers of Twinkies out of boredom. Then the neighborhood brats put a burning paper bag full of dog shit on his porch, and of course, Kale's feet get covered in it. Then he chases after the brats down the street only to violate his house arrest, so he sprints back and collapses embarrassingly on his shit stained lawn in front of the sexy girl next door. Then the neighborhood cop, alerted by the GPS bracelet, arrives to bend him over and handcuff him publicly.
  • Jerkass:
    • The Spanish teacher. He fails Ronnie's spanish speech out of spite for screwing around, throws an eraser at Kale, and insensitively asks him about his father. Then presses charges against Kale for the assault with still No Sympathy towards Kale's hardships since losing his father and how it led to him punching him.
    • His cousin too, who bullies Kale as his parole officer out of sweet revenge for the assault. He gets his though.
    • The little kids too, for provoking Kale and teasing him.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold:
    • Kale can be aloof and a bit rude, but he's a Nice Guy underneath it all.
    • Kale's mother Julie counts too, as initially their relationship between Kale and her were strained, especially shown when Kale was under house arrest, she cancels his subscriptions to the iTunes Music Store and Xbox Live, and cuts the power cord of his television. Though besides that fact it was to give him a hard lesson for assaulting the Spanish teacher, it's implied Julie becoming strict towards Kale was probably also out of her blaming Kale for her husband's death, which was something Robert Turner also implied at the climax when creating a motive of Kale murdering his mother while planning to frame him. However, after Kale came to the rescue, she Took a Level in Kindness towards Kale after him being hailed a hero by the police and the suburbs for stopping a killer's murder spree and getting off of house arrest.
  • Laser-Guided Karma: The kids that were watching porn without their mom knowing will probably get grounded, and it's implied that that's just the start.
  • Lovable Coward: Ronnie, who after he broke in to Turner's car to retrieve his phone back he forgot in an earlier investigation for Kale and then investigate his house for more clues, escape the house and hide when the police arrive to avoid arrest for burglary and trespassing, leading Kale to believe Turner had harmed him and risking getting into trouble with the law and making a big fool of himself in the eyes of neighborhood to try to rescue him.
  • Mood Whiplash: The movie starts you off with a wonderfully lighthearted fishing trip, with father and son bonding. Watching the car accident moments later is just gut wrenching. Not only that, but the last 20 minutes take this to the extreme when Robert Turner shows his true colors, with people being bound and gagged, stabbed, one character having his neck twisted and broken, decomposed corpses and skeletons and what not...
  • Ms. Fanservice: There are several shots of Ashley in her bikini.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: After witnessing the two accidents that completely destroy their car, We watch Kale go to his father's side to see how he is...only to see his reaction to what happened to his father. He goes slowly recoils in horror upon see what happened, but we as the audience don't see, implying it left a traumatic impact on him.
  • O.O.C. Is Serious Business: Officer Gutiérrez, after being alerted by Kale's ankle bracelet for one last time, investigate the inside of Robert Turner's house and sees the suspiciously opened vent that contained one of Turner's victims, prompting him to pull out his sidearm and cautiously search further upon realizing how serious the situation could be. After being a Smug Snake over using his position as Kale's parole officer to humiliate him, he presumably now realizes Kale could be telling the truth about Turner all along, only to get his neck snapped by Turner just as he calls for back up.
  • Official Couple: Kale and Ashley at the end of the film.
  • Parents as People: Played with Julie, as she cancels Kale's subscriptions to the iTunes Music Store and Xbox Live, and cuts the power cord of his television not just to further punish him for his house arrest, but likely out of blame for his failure to save her husband. However, she is still a caring mother and her strictness is justified due being a single parent, Kale's aloofness that she tries to get him out of and her Anger Born of Worry that Kale is going nuts and going to do something that will result in him being taken away from her by the police.
  • Porn Stash: Well, technically not a magazine, but the bratty kids usually watch porn on their television set.
  • Portmantitle: Disturbia: "Disturbed" + "Suburbia"
  • "Rear Window" Homage. By extension, also features, Rear Window Witness and Rear Window Investigation.
  • The Peeping Tom: Kale, and sometimes Ronnie, spends a while lusting and staring after Ashley from afar.
  • Product Placement: iPods are frequently used and Kale is shown using a Macbook Pro and playing on an Xbox 360.
  • Properly Paranoid: Kale, about his neighbor being a murderer. He was right all along.
  • Rabid Cop: Downplayed, but Officer Gutiérrez gleefully uses his duty as Kale's parole officer to humiliate Kale out of revenge for his Sadist Teacher cousin if he goes against house arrest.
  • Recycled INSPACE: Although not a straight remake, this movie is basically Rear Window WITH TEENAGERS!
  • Revenge: Kale finally gets his revenge on those bratty kids for tormenting him by posing as a person who works for a TV network, and getting the kids in trouble with their mother by snitching on them for watching porn.
  • Sadist Teacher: While Kale's Spanish teacher doesn't have sadistic tendencies, he's quite the jerkass to Kale, showing No Sympathy towards Kale losing his father.
  • Serial Killer: It's obvious that the news' description about the front fender dent in the mustang being matched from Turner's vehicle that he drives is enough to reveal that he is a serial killer. Despite this, when he first interacts with Kale in his kitchen and Ashley in her car, he talks in such a way that makes you both think and not think he is as dangerous as he is, which has good tendency to freak the audience out.
  • Sexy Surfacing Shot: Kale spies on Ashley while she climbs out of the pool in a bikini, with the camera zooming in for some Male Gaze.
  • Shout-Out: Kale Brecht's last name is a reference to Bertolt Brecht.
  • Smug Snake: Officer Gutiérrez smug every time he takes the opportunity to avenge his cousin against Kale.
  • Stacy's Mom: Ashley comments on how gorgeous Kale's mom is.
  • Stalking Is Love: Kale manages to pull a surprisingly wholesome variation of this after Ashley gets mad at him for spying her. He admits he does spy her, but then demonstrates how deep and untrivial is the insight of her it has granted him and how much he admires her for what he has seen. It works, and she sums it by describing the case as "the creepiest... or the sweetest thing she ever heard" before accepting it as an elaborate Love Confession and kissing him. Unlike many examples, it is also helped by circumstances: she shares his acknowledgment that they are both in a similar situation, that of a teenager trapped in an unfavorable place and trying to figure out an absurd and hurtful world by peeking at it through limited means (her books and his window).
  • Surprise Car Crash: The car crash that kills Kale's dad happens without warning after another car pulls up in front of them and changes lanes seconds before they hit a different, broken-down car parked right in front of them.
  • Toplessness from the Back: Ashley is shown like this while Kale is watching her undress with her blinds open.
  • Torture Cellar: Inside Turner's house, there are several levels of torture chambers.
  • Two Guys and a Girl: Kale, his best friend Ronnie, and Ashley. a girl who moves next door, team up when they stalk a creepy neighbor.
  • Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The entire plot would not happen if... That teacher kept his mouth shut, Kale never assaulted his teacher, the judge sent Kale to jail instead of house arrest, and if Kale's mom didn't cancel his Xbox Live and his iTunes. But then again, Kale would never discover Turner's activities, and so an insane serial killer would be quietly continuing his murderous existence...
  • Widow Woman: Julie, Kale's mother following her husband's death at the beginning of the film. It's implied Julie blames Kale for his death, causing her to be somewhat vindictively authoritative and strict towards him, which only worsens when Kale is placed under house arrest for punching his teacher, even though it was in defense of her late husband's memory as the teacher insults Kale's father which led to Kale hitting him.
  • Would Hit a Girl: Turner had no scruples with hitting Ashley, binding and gagging Kale's mother, slamming her against a wall, and slapping her.
  • Would Hurt a Child: Subverted with Kale wanting to hurt the children who were bothering him but because he was on house arrest, he was forced to go back to his house.
  • Wrong Genre Savvy: The Spanish teacher who berated Kale for ignoring his homework. He apparently expected Kale to have a deep change of heart when he went: "What would your father think?" Instead, the teacher got beaten up.

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