“Listen up. House arrest might sound like a breeze, but I’ve seen many a folk get a bit loopy after too long. Some after just a day or two. So, find constructive things to do to keep yourself busy.”– Detective Parker
When we talked about the posts we wanted to do in 2020, Disturbia was not on that list. None of the members of Munch were even thinking about this movie and haven’t since 2007. But then again, COVID-19 wasn’t in our plans either.
Usually, the whole Munch crew meets to cook, eat, and watch together all in one day. In an effort to keep each other safe and collectively do our part in flattening the curve, meeting up and hanging out can’t continue. We all need to chip in and make this small personal sacrifice for the betterment of the community and those most at risk. So, with social distancing guidelines in mind, we got creative. We decided to try some new formats and some new films that we’d never previously considered to make some ~ content ~ that is appropriate for this pandemic.
We’re doing this for you as much as we’re doing it for us. We all need to be entertained (safely and in our own homes), now more than ever. We’re just heeding the advice Detective Parker (Viola Davis, if you can believe it) gave at the top of the post, and honestly, she’s right.
We started with Disturbia not because it’s the movie we like the most, or because it has had a measurable impact on society and film, but because Leanna remembered thinking Shia LaBeouf was a smokin’ hottie in this movie and wanted to see if that held true (it doesn’t). Unlike Leanna, who saw this movie multiple times in theaters, Ben and André were less familiar with the plot. Fortunately, it’s pretty easy, to sum up: Kale (Shia LaBeouf, with a character name that isn’t going to make this post any easier) gets house arrest, Kale gets bored, Kale spies on his neighbors, and hijinks ensue.
Channeling that as inspiration, Leanna and André voluntarily set up some security cameras in their kitchen and gave Ben the password to view the feed (a solid concept for Disturbia 2). Leanna and André cooked a pretty classic example of one of their quarantine meals, and Ben attempted to follow along as best he could.
Unlike Kale, Ben was able to listen in and pick up bits and pieces of André and Leanna’s conversation as they discussed what was next in each recipe, but all measurements and temperatures were largely unknown to him. Every time André or Leanna would start a step in the cooking process, Ben would try to finish it before them so he could go back to watching the security footage to make sure he didn’t miss anything.
But, for Ben, perhaps the most disturbing thing about the whole experience was that there was a certain intrigue in getting access to their home. Even when André and Leanna weren’t on screen, it was tempting for him to just sit there and watch, hoping to get a glimpse of their pets.
We started with a sheet-pan dinner, a go-to form of cooking for Leanna and André these last few months. Not only is it easy to cook and clean this way, but it usually makes leftovers which are essential when working from home, as we do. This night we went with a sheet-pan chicken with potatoes, scallions, and capers. We served it over rice, and we can confirm as we are writing this a few days later that the leftovers were indeed delicious.
Prior to this excursion we communicated the protein we were using and you may notice that the recipe calls for chicken thighs. As you can see in the photos, Ben had not purchased chicken thighs. He had to attempt the recipe with alterations because the piece of chicken he had was not going to cook in a reasonable manner in the oven. He burned the chicken in all of the ruckus.
For dessert, we went a little fancy. You have to have something to look forward to during the pandemic, and for us, it was a citrusy cheesecake. Although we had to cook it for far longer than it states in the recipe (which probably added to some cooking complications for Ben as he attempted to follow along), it turned out very nicely. The notes of citrus were a nice addition to the rich cheesecake.
A stroke of luck occurred for Ben during the cooking of the cheesecake. With André and Leanna being out of a couple of key ingredients themselves when it came time to bake, Ben was able to use the delay to obtain some ingredients himself once he knew what they were up to. Still, that didn’t stop him from adding 4 eggs into the cheesecake (instead of just 2) because he completely missed how many André added in when the time came.
And finally, we paid homage to our preferred Disturbia, the 2008 hit song by Rihanna. According to one random radio station, she likes to drink Jameson and ginger when she’s eating. So we put a Munch spin on that and ended up with the Ginger Buck: bourbon, lime juice, fresh ginger, and simple syrup plus a sprig of rosemary and candied ginger as a garnish. Delightful. Rihanna was on to something.
Using Discord to voice chat, the separated Munch crew pressed play at the same time and watched Disturbia. As we watched, it was hard not to relate to Kale at least a little bit at times. Right after he receives that advice from the detective, the shot cuts to him playing video games. Now it’s not our fault that Animal Crossing: New Horizons came out within days of the “stay at home” mandate, but we have been living the Kale-life. Without daily commutes, dates with friends, or our other regularly scheduled activities, video games were a great option to pass all the new time we had… For awhile. Soon Kale turns to other options like Twinkie-based art projects, chores, and eventually spying on his neighbors. Anyone who has looked at TikTok in the last month will know that these are some pretty common categories for influencer content. And Kale didn’t have JackBox, Zoom, House Party, or any of the other technology that we can cycle through on a daily basis.
That said, throughout Distrubia, Kale still spends a good portion of his time blatantly spying on people. And besides the neighbor that ends up being a serial killer, nobody reprimands him for this. His mom can’t miss all the cameras and binoculars lying around their house all the time, right? She doesn’t have any questions? No concerns? She can take away his Xbox but not his binoculars?
Most problematic is the fact that Ashley (Sarah Roemer) fully catches Kale stalking her multiple times during Disturbia and decides, out of it being either “the creepiest or the sweetest thing” she’s ever heard, it’s the sweetest. No person would or should respond this way to the kind of things that Kale has been up to. It’s clear that the creators of this film wanted a “hot girl, but like, not what you would expect a hot girl to be like.” She plays video games, reads “thick” books, and eats pizza-flavored chips, so she’s not like other girls. And that’s all the character development we got for Ashley! We never see any resolution with her fighting parents or the tension between her and her mom. What a disappointment.
Speaking of lack of character development, Kale shows no growth whatsoever. After a dramatic opening sequence of the film in which Kale’s father is tragically killed in a car accident while Kale is driving, Kale punches his teacher a few months later for asking him “what would your father think?” when Kale slacks off in class. This leads to juvenile court and a verdict that is reduced to house arrest because of what happened to Kale’s father. That’s it! It’s never mentioned again save for a passing glance Kale shoots at his father’s desk hinting that this may play into the plot, and yet, it never does. Killing the dad was all just setup to get Kale, a good boy, pissed off enough to commit a crime that could get him restricted to house arrest so the rest of the movie could play out. It’s almost like they wrote the beginning of the movie last because they couldn’t figure out why he was on house arrest.
This movie had potential. There was a better, 87-minute movie in here where the tables are turned on Kale and he learns about the value of privacy. One where the obvious weirdo next door who mows his lawn TWICE A DAY isn’t the guy who ends up being the killer. Or one where Kale’s heroics at the end somehow tie back to him coming to terms with the death of his father.
To be fair, there were some things we enjoyed. We felt like Shia LaBeouf, despite playing a pretty awful character with no real arc, gave it his all. You can see him becoming the “good” actor we know him for today. Also, the movie presents a very solid, suspenseful, 70 minutes before going fully off the rails. Then there was all the old technology in this movie that was just delightful to spot: an iPod, PSP, and flip phones abound, just to name a few. The soundtrack itself was also full of 2007 nostalgia.
We don’t really recommend watching this movie, and we definitely do not condone spying on people. But if you want to try a new way to have a virtual dinner with friends, then go ahead and give a Disturbia-style dinner a try.