Lakeview Terrace

What could be safer than living next to a cop?
Not living next to Samuel L Jackson, for one.

Director: Neil LaBute (2008)
Starring: Samuel L Jackson, Patrick Wilson, Kerry Washington
Find it: IMDB, Amazon

True story: I find Lakeview Terrace a difficult movie to watch. Not because it's shit or anything, but rather because it actually happened. To me. In the same way that Maniac Cop elicits shivers from me every time, so does Neil LaBute's Lakeview Terrace. In this heated thriller, an angry cop (Jackson) terrorises and victimises his new neighbours (Wilson and Washington) right up to a predictably explosive showdown at the end. Such things which actually happened include the cop having Wilson arrested and wrecking their hedge for the sake of it. They left out that bit where he blocked my Patrick Wilson's driveway with his car for two weeks, and I don't remember there being guns involved, but otherwise Lakeview Terrace is pretty true to what actually happened. Thanks a lot, Neil LaBute. What next, a movie adaptation of that one time I got dumped in Starbucks?

Because Neil LaBute likes his big themes, Lakeview Terrace isn't just about a cop being a prick to his neighbours. It's made clear that Jackson's character is a racist, just like he was in Die Hard With A Vengeance. Not only does he disapprove of his neighbours' interracial relationship, but he's none too keen on their penchant for walking around half-naked or doing fucks either. He begins to unravel, both at home and work. There's an effort to make his Officer Abel Turner seem rounded and conflicted, but he's pretty much just a cartoon menace.

For what it's worth, I could see where he's coming from. Not with the racism, but Patrick Wilson is a bit of a penis. I'd probably wreck Patrick Wilson's hedges too, should he ever end up living next door to me. Lakeview Terrace is reminiscent of The Fireman and that Simpsons episode with George Bush. It offers very few surprises and little in the way of originality. Disappointingly, there's not even Nicolas Cage dropkicking women in the face. Officer Abel's racism is an interesting subtext, but nowhere near enough to hold a whole movie. Eventually the smouldering tension and building aggression climaxes, but only in a wholly predictable way.

Lakeview Terrace is a diverting psychothriller, improved only by its lead performances and amusing melodrama. Like I said, I'd probably have enjoyed it more had I not been living next door to my own mini Officer Abel at the time. Fucker ruined my hedge.

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