For fanatics of gory suspense-thrillers (think: Pacific Palisades, Unlawful Entry, or Single White Female), Lakeview Terrace may be a letdown. While the title alone struck fear into my heart (I grew up in LVT), I doubt it'll do much else for other viewers aside from eliciting smirks of satisfaction from Samuel L. Jackson rant fans. (A majority in which I happily include myself.)
Jackson plays Abel Turner, an uppity cop who disapproves of his new neighbors — young interracial couple, Chris and Lisa (Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington) — so much that he winds up making their lives sheer and unending misery. At first, he's just an annoying holier-than-thou type… but then he gets a shotgun and starts trying to put holes in them. In between those moments, Jackson reminds us why he's such a sought-after actor: although his character could be construed as cardboard, his portrayal certainly is not. If you liked him in Changing Lanes, you'll love this. Wilson, who you may remember as being the tormented plaything of Ellen Page in Hard Handy, is Jackson's checkmate as the sympathetic "what if that were me?" protagonist. Washington, relegated to a secondary role as the boys square off, is still rock solid as needed.
While the actors are excellent and there's lots of good stuff in place here (a touch of tension, some unexpected revelations), Lakeview Terrace is uneven and concludes in such a big, overblown way as to make vintage Sam Peckinpah look meek. Still; it's much better, tonally, than director Neil LaBute's last movie, the unintentionally hilarious The Wicker Man remake. (But it's not nearly as much fun to watch, either.)
David Loughery and Howard Korder's script is reasonably smart and boasts some cinematically heightened dialogue that's not quite a quippy as Diablo Cody (or even Brian Nelson), but is certainly hip enough for the room. The music and other accoutrement keep up ably enough without standing out.
Overall, I liked Lakeview Terrace. I wouldn't buy property there (cue the rim shot), but I'll recommend a rent.
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Reviewed by Staci Layne Wilson