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DISTURBIA

About The Production
For writer Christopher Landon, the genesis for "Disturbia,” a suspense thriller in which the upscale homes and manicured lawns of suburbia could be the perfect hiding place for a serial killer, arose from a visit to his sister's home "deep in the ‘burbs of Los Angeles' San Fernando Valley.

"Everyone pretty much considers suburbia as something that is idealistic and beautiful… but it's always kind of given me the creeps,” Landon says. "One night, as I was driving home from my sister's place, this idea just popped into my head – a story about a kid who is stuck in his house and begins to notice bizarre things happening across the way. He eventually comes to suspect that his neighbor is a serial killer.”

For Landon, the seeming calm of suburbia produces a "forest for the trees” effect, in which people go about their lives oblivious to the circumstances — benevolent or dangerous — surrounding them. "I think that many people who live in these neighborhoods fall into a daily routine and, for the most part, don't really know their neighbors very well.”

Such is the case with Kale, the 17-year-old at the center of "Disturbia.” Until the automobile accident that killed his father, life with his family was the typical suburban dream. They were a happy, nuclear unit, ensconced in a beautiful two-story Craftsman bungalow. In the year since his father's death, however, that dream had disintegrated. When the troubled Kale is challenged at school by one of his teachers, he lashes out, punches the instructor and winds up in court. While he is spared juvenile detention, Kale is sentenced to house arrest and must wear an ankle bracelet that will summon the police if he ventures more than 100 feet from his front door.

The upside of having the house to himself all day long quickly wear thin and Kale turns his attention to his next-door neighbors. He and his best friend Ronnie engage in a game of "I spy,” making note of the comings and goings of the residents around them. Curious patterns emerge and the glossy suburban façade begins to tarnish. Idiosyncrasies come to light and personal affairs are revealed. When Kale's new neighbor, the beautiful Ashley, discovers his little game, she decides to join in on the spying.

But they soon make an unsettling discovery that turns the whole game deadly serious. "In general, we don't really pay close attention to what's around us, because we're too busy with our lives,” observes Landon. "But Kale is now in a position where he really has nothing else to do but notice. And once he starts watching, he begins to see some unsettling things and he has to wonder if it's just his imagination running wild, or is there more out there than meets the eye?”

For the screenwriter, one of the more compelling aspects of this kind of thriller was not the "is he or isn't he a serial killer?” angle, but the personalities of the ragtag troupe of spying teenagers who are at the heart of the story. "In these types of films, you usually have someone like a Harrison Ford-type chasing down the bad guys. But these kids are not your classic hero types,” Landon notes. "Kale's just this kid with time on his hands who realizes ‘I have an entire reality TV show happening all around me.' In the process, he stumbles on a really dark and terrifying character in the show.”

It was exactly Landon's voyeuristic exploration combined with a varied stylistic tone that ranged from almost comic to nail-biting that appealed to Montecito Picture Company producer Joe Medjuck. "All films are essentially voyeuristic in some way,” Medjuk suggests. "But there are some great ones that are actually about people observing, looking at things.

There's Antonioni's ‘Blow Up,' Michael Powell's ‘Peeping Tom,' Hitchcock‘s ‘Rear Window,' Coppola's ‘The Conversation,' along

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