Lakeview Terrace (2008)
Reviewed on 2009 August 4
This is something I wanted to see despite tepid reviews, and while it was worth a Saturday afternoon, I’m glad I didn’t take the time and money to seek it out in a first-run theater.
Abel Turner (Samuel L. Jackson) is a hardcase cop and widower father, almost on autopilot as he corrects his daughter’s (Regine Nehy) grammar and herds his son (Jaishon Fisher). If you went into this without having seen a single preview you might just think he’s just a tough-love kind of parent, but you quickly learn he’s just mean and crazy. Abel likes things his way and loves to hold grudges, and when Chris and Lisa Mattson (Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington), an interracial couple, move in next door, you can hear his hackles rise (a “reason”, however flimsy, is later offered for this). One night Chris and Lisa “christen” their pool, and the Turners see this. A sane person would come over the next day with a pot of coffee and gently remind them his children can see their property, and with any luck they’d all have something to joke about over cocktails a year later. Able responds by aiming a veritable klieg light at their bedroom windows, and things only get worse as Abel grows more unhinged.
This is more or less a plodding vehicle for Samuel L. Jackson, who can class up almost anything that isn’t weighed down by CGI snakes. Sadly, this is weighed down by something incredible that our protagonists did. I won’t give that away for anyone who wants to see it, but it pretty much derailed things for me. That said, it’s still unsettling simply because the idea of your neighbor having that much power and hating you for no good reason is scary.
Two chocolate morsels. It’s broken but it works well enough to be disturbing.