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Lakeview Terrace (2008) - Movie Review

Lakeview Terrace movie poster

Not long after I launched my Facebook page I started to make a list of movies I wanted to write posts about.

Some I wanted to write about because they’re among my favourite films and I wanted to share my love of them, and some are movies that I feel slipped tragically under the radar and just wanted to shine a light on.

One such movie and one I’ve been meaning to rewatch for ages is:

Lakeview Terrace (2008)

A rewatch of this was long overdue. Until a couple of nights ago I hadn’t seen it since it first came out but it made an impression on me way back then. I’m happy to report it’s every bit as good as I remember.

If you haven’t seen it, it’s a crime/drama/thriller starring Samuel L. Jackson (Snakes on a Plane), Patrick Wilson (Watchmen) and Kerry Washington (Django Unchained) among others.

Interestingly the plot is loosely based on real life events involving an interracial couple, John and Mellaine Hamilton, and Irsie Henry, an African-American Los Angeles police officer. Henry was eventually fired by the LAPD for his actions.

Samuel L. Jackson Lakeview Terrace

This is what the film’s about according to the internet:

“Moving into their first home, married couple Chris and Lisa Mattson (Wilson and Washington) look forward to a blissful new life together. That is until they meet their new neighbour Abel Turner (Jackson), who introduces himself to Chris by pretending to be an armed car jacker. Getting off to a bad start, things only get worse as the new homeowners come to realise that Turner is angered by their interracial relationship.”

Some movies I find I can really identify with. In some cases it’s the story, but more often than not it’s a certain character. In this case it’s Patrick Wilson’s character, Chris.

Much like Chris I’m not an overly confrontational guy, far from it. I wish I was sometimes, but for the most part it either takes a few drinks and for me to be in the wrong mood, or for me to be pushed to my limit over a period of time before I kick off about something. I could even find a hair in my food at a restaurant and I’d just pull it out, flick it to the floor and keep eating - I’m that easy-going.

This film is about a mild mannered guy (such as myself) being pushed to his limits and having to stand up for himself and his wife in an increasingly threatening situation. It’s the slow build of tension and the ever volatile relationship with his new neighbour (Jackson) that makes it so enjoyable to watch.

Thankfully this is another one of those movies that doesn’t waste any time getting to the point. It’s clear from the first few minutes that Jackson’s character, Abel has a few issues, and right from his first encounter with Chris (Patrick Wilson) it’s all systems go on the tention-ometer (I’m aware that’s not a word).

Samuel L. Jackson is great in this movie! Considering he generally plays the good guy he’s totally convincing as the passive-aggressive neighbour from hell. Although he’s essentially the villain of the story, it’s explained over the course of the movie where his racial issues stem from. Once you find out what’s behind it, it’s almost hard not to sympathise with him. He’s not, or at least, hasn’t always been that way. Still, racism is racism.

Samuel L. Jackson in Lakeview Terrace

The film has a small but good cast (shout out to Kerry Washington who’s also great as Chris’s wife, Lisa) and it deals with a side of racism you don’t tend to see a lot in movies.

If you haven’t seen it and enjoy a good tense crime/thriller I highly recommend checking it out, especially if you’ve ever had an annoying neighbour (I think we all have at some point).

Seen it? Let me know below in the comments.

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