Lakeview Terrace Neil LaBute

Lakeview Terrace Neil LaBute
Lakeview Terrace retrogresses to the suburban anxiety movies of the early ’90s, like Unlawful Entry, Pacific Heights, Consenting Adults and The Hand that Rocks the Cradle, where attractive newlyweds and homeowners find their idyllic sweet hereafters threatened by those who are envious or threatened by their seeming perfection.

Like said films, Lakeview Terrace follows a predictable and mostly effective template, which finds its credulity increasingly strained as the stakes are heightened and logical reactions are thrown out the window.

The formulaic thriller kicks into motion when bi-racial couple Chris (Patrick Wilson) and Lisa Mattson (Kerry Washington) move into their new home next door to a curmudgeonly, bigoted police officer named Abel Turner (Samuel L. Jackson).

Tempers flare almost immediately when Abel finds unwelcome cigarette butts on his property and the newlyweds find Abel’s security lights impeding on their ability to sleep. Inevitably the situation escalates and given that Abel is an officer of the law, the couple finds very few places they can turn to for help.

From the campy, yet thoroughly entertaining, performance from Samuel L Jackson to the foreboding smoke cloud on the horizon, the cheese factor is high. There is even effort made to toss in some expositional back-story in order to justify Jackson’s racial intolerance. This isn’t to say the film is entirely horrible; it isn’t. It is simply the kind of film where logic and accountability should be left at the door.

Conflict scenarios and build-up are constructed professionally and leave an appropriate feeling of discomfort and anxiety. It is clear that LaBute is both aware of his professional obligations and the need to appeal to a mainstream audience on this project.

Those expecting Nurse Betty or Your Friends & Neighbours will be disappointed but those looking for something silly to watch with friends may find some minor amusement and thrills. (Sony)