This is quite a strange movie. At first glance, you would think that this is one of those old-school, eighties-style, suspense thrillers, something like The Stepfather. Featuring a seemingly simple and not-too-large structure, Lakeview Terrace is a story about an interracial couple who gets harassed by their black neighbor, who happens to be a cop. Now, this does not involve the department or the whole city. This is a story about a just couple of characters and I loved this laser-focused style of storytelling.
The racial tension is palpable and is one of the reasons why this movie is so good. It creates this suspenseful atmosphere that just envelops you and before you know it, you’re in this rich LA neighborhood. Also, I think all of us had problems with our neighbors at some point in our lives. I mean, it’s inevitable. I remember how my downstairs neighbor banged on my floor from below with a stick every time I went to the bathroom after 12 pm. He also wrote me messages on the walls of the building, but wouldn’t answer the door. Oddly enough, the guy who moved in after me was a cop, hopefully, he didn’t know that.
It’s an exciting time for our new power couple Chris and Lisa Mattson. They’re moving into their first house and beginning a new chapter of their lives with great expectations. The house is located in one of those fancy neighborhoods and it looks awesome. However, there’s just one small problem, a nosy neighbor who will soon start to harass the couple…
Lakeview Terrace raises some interesting questions, although I don’t know if this was intentional or not (in the end, it doesn’t even matter). First of all, the question of how should we interact with other people. Especially with those who are determined to discard the general system of values and insert themselves as basically demigods, dictating justice as they see fit. What to do when those who were supposed to protect us are doing exactly the opposite? This sort of general question boils down to your own personality and your strategy for solving this problem.
Would you move, counterattack, or something else? So, Lakeview Terrace is basically a movie about a neighbor from hell. SLJ was great here, threatening and authoritative, he was this cop. Patrick and Kerry were also good, especially Patrick who seems to be getting better and better. Finally, I have to mention the fact that this is partly based on a true story in Altadena, California. John and Mellaine Hamilton are an interracial couple and Irsie Henry, is an African-American Los Angeles police officer who harassed them. If you want to know more, check out this story in Pasadena Weekly.
Director: Neil LaBute
Writers: David Loughery, Howard Korder
Cast: Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Wilson, Kerry Washington, Jay Hernandez
Fun Stuff: The place where the L.A. police kept beating on Rodney King is Lakeview Terrace. His name and famous line, “Can’t we all just get along?” also appears in the movie.