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Kale Brecht 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. 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.
Not only does his mother cut off his TV and Internet access, but the policeman supervising his home detention is the cousin of the Spanish teacher. 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 who may or may not be a killer, and the new girl next door Ashley, 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.
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: Sometimes averted and sometimes played straight. The police 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.
- Asian Airhead: Ronnie, Kale's dumb and hyperactive best friend. He thoroughly subverts the Asian and Nerdy stereotype.
- Berserk Button: NEVER ask Kale about his father.
- Binocular Shot: Used extensively.
- Bound and Gagged: Happens to both Kale and his mother. In a rare case in suspense films, this actually doesn't prevent them from retaliating -- Kale's mother is ironically at her most useful by far while duct taped up 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.
- Dawson Casting: 28-year old Aaron Yoo as Ronnie is the worst offender. Also, Sarah Roehmer, 23, and Shia LaBeouf, 21.
- 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".
- Enhance Button
- Girl Next Door: Ashley is a rather unusual example of this. Especially for her love of reading books on her rooftop.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Now we know what Tritter does on his days off.
- Hollywood Nerd: Kale and Ashley.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Rear Window Witness
- Recycled in Space: Although not a straight remake, this movie is basically Rear Window WITH TEENAGERS!
- Serial Killer: The neighbor Robert Turner is revealed to be this early on.
- Shout-Out: Kale Brecht's last name is a reference to Bertolt Brecht.
- Stalker with a Crush: Kale.
- Stepford Suburbia
- Product Placement: iPods are frequently used and Kale is shown using a Macbook Pro and playing on an Xbox 360.
- Torture Cellar: Inside Turner's house, there are several levels of torture chambers.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: The entire plot would not happen if...
- That teacher kept his mouth shut.
- The judge sent Kale to jail instead of house arrest.
- Kale's mom didn't cancel his Xbox Live and his iTunes.
- 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.