Lakeview Terrace

The main problem with this treatise on racial politics undercover as an exercise in suspense is that the director, Neil LaBute, didn't write the script. LaBute is an incendiary playwright (Bash, The Mercy Seat, Fat Pig) who puts us in the company of misogynist men who slowly reveal their base instincts. Lakeview Terrace, written by David Loughery and Howard Korder, is obvious when you most want it to be stealth.

Samuel L. Jackson stars as LAPD veteran Abel Turner, a widower who's hard on his two kids (Regine Nehy, Jaishon Fisher) and harder on his new neighbors. They would be Chris (Patrick Wilson), a white man, and Lisa (Kerry Washington), his black wife. Interracial coupling doesn't sit well with Abel. Not that you see much coupling, even during a strip party. Lakeview Terrace is PG-13 with a vengeance. Few actors can match Jackson for doing a fade from mirth to menace. Still, LaBute never turns on the juice. By the time Abel launches his reign of terror, there's very little you can't see coming.

From The Archives Issue 418: March 29, 1984