Lakeview Terrace is a 2008 American thriller film directed by Neil LaBute, written by David Loughery and Howard Korder, and co-produced by Will Smith, and starring Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington. Jackson plays a prejudiced LAPD police officer who terrorizes his new next-door neighbors because they are an interracially married couple. The film was released on September 19, 2008. The film's title is a reference to the ethnically-mixed middle class Los Angeles neighborhood of Lake View Terrace.
Abel Turner (Samuel L. Jackson) is a twenty-eight-year veteran of the LAPD. A single and widowed father, he is particularly strict with his two children, Marcus (Jaishon Fisher) and Celia (Regine Nehy). As his kids leave for school, the new neighbors begin moving in next door. They are a young interracial couple, Chris and Lisa Mattson (Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington), who are recently married and buying their first home.
Chrisâs first exchanges with Abel have somewhat hostile undertones, with Abel making comments about Chrisâ smoking (which Chris hides from Lisa) and listening to hip hop music. The following night, Chris and Lisa have sex in their swimming pool. Unknown to them, Abel's children are watching. Abel arrives home to see this spectacle and is upset, so he repositions the home security floodlights so they shine into Chris and Lisa's window, keeping them awake. When Chris confronts him, Abel claims that the lights are part of his security system to prevent crime and says that it is a complex process to shut down the system and the lights.
Abel attends a housewarming party hosted by Chris and Lisa. He is garrulous but has an edge, and criticizes Chris and his friends for their liberal political and social tendencies. He also exposes Chris' smoking to Lisa, as Chris has been discarding his cigarette butts on Abel's lawn. As he leaves, Chris tells Abel that he is starting to take offense to him, but does not plan to move. One evening, they hear noises downstairs, and find the tires of Chris' car slashed. They suspect Abel and call the police. However, because of Abel's status within the LAPD, the arriving officers are unable to do anything.
Chris and Lisa have dinner with her father, who warns them that acrimony with a police officer may cause trouble. Chris buys his own floodlights and shines them into Abel's bedroom. Lisa later reveals that she is pregnant, which causes conflict as Chris does not yet want to have children. Chris later finds out that Lisa skipped birth control pills to force the issue, and when he confronts her she accuses him of being shortsighted. Meanwhile, Abel is suspended without pay for his abuse of a suspect on the job, which brings even more fury out on him. He hosts a loud bachelor party while the kids are away with their aunt. Chris arrives to complain about the music, but Abel taunts him.
Chris plants trees at the fence between their houses, which leads to an almost violent exchange between the two neighbors, as Abel refuses to have their trees hanging over his property without permission. Later Chris goes to a local bar, and as he finishes his drink, Abel enters and tells Chris that he lost his own wife, when a car hit her on a highway. Abel makes a last cryptic comment about his wife, wondering what she was doing out in that area, at that time with her white boss, when she was supposed to be working, implying she was being unfaithful to Abel.
Both Abel and the Mattsons attend a barbecue in a home down the hill. Abel's informant Clarence Darlington (Keith Loneker) is sent to trash their home, as another means of making the Mattsons uncomfortable in the neighborhood. Lisa goes home early, surprising Clarence. They struggle, which leads to Lisa being knocked out; but not before she triggers the alarm. Chris races home upon hearing the alarm, followed by a frustrated Abel. Chris rushes to the injured Lisa, while Abel comes upon his hired criminal trying to escape and shoots him dead in the pool. The Mattsons go to the hospital, where Lisa is found to be okay.
Wildfires are raging in the hills surrounding the community and the residents of the neighborhood are instructed to pack their things and leave their homes. Abel remains at his house, hosing off his roof, as he does not want to leave his home. With the Mattsons at the hospital, Abel enters their home, hoping to retrieve a cell phone which Clarence left behind, as he is afraid his call to the perpetrator could be traced, implicating him in the break-in. Before he can find it, Lisa and Chris unexpectedly return from the hospital and Abel returns to his home. Chris thanks Abel for helping him during the break-in, trying to express a sense of community with Abel. While the Mattsons are packing to leave, Chris discovers the cell phone under their bed and picks it up. He dials the last number logged on the phone and hears Abel answer. Chris realizes Abel is responsible for the break-in, and Abel realizes Chris has discovered the phone.
Abel comes over with his gun drawn, trying to convince Chris that the perpetrator was trying to set him up. He and Chris struggle and Chris tells Lisa to take the car and the cell phone to the police. Abel shoots Lisa's car and she crashes into a parked car. Chris tackles Abel and gets his gun. After pistol whipping Abel and seemingly knocking him out, Chris runs to help Lisa out of the car. This leads to a standoff, with Chris securing Abel's 9mm semi-automatic handgun and Abel drawing his backup revolver from his ankle holster.
Deputies from the LA County Sheriff's Department arrive. Abel hides his gun behind his back and tries to convince them Chris is unbalanced due to the break-in and attack on Lisa earlier that day. Chris refuses to drop his weapon until Abel puts his down, but Abel raises his arms and insists that he is unarmed. Chris finally throws Abel off, by asking about his wife's death and how he was unable to recognize that she had become unfaithful to him. Infuriated, Abel shoots Chris and is promptly gunned down and killed by the deputies. Chris is taken to an ambulance with a gunshot wound to the chest, but is told he will live. He and Lisa later talk about their pride in their home, neighborhood, and soon-to-be family.
- Samuel L. Jackson as Police Officer 3rd Grade Abel Turner
- Patrick Wilson as Chris Mattson
- Kerry Washington as Lisa Mattson
- Jaishon Fisher as Marcus Turner
- Regine Nehy as Celia Turner
- Jay Hernandez as Police Officer Javier Villareal
- Keith Loneker as Clarence Darlington
- Ron Glass as Harold Perreau
- Caleeb Pinkett as Damon Richards
- Justin Chambers as Donnie Eaton
- Juan Diaz as Steele
- Lynn Chen as Eden
The majority of the movie was filmed in Walnut, California on North Deer Creek Drive. The scene where Abel Turner comes out of the police station to talk to his partner and other police officers was filmed in Hawthorne, California on the corner of Grevillea Ave. & 126th St.
Critical reaction to Lakeview Terrace has been mixed. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 45% of critics gave positive reviews based on 161 reviews. On Metacritic, critics gave an average score of 47/100 based on 28 reviews.
Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a very positive review, awarding it his highest rating of four stars (out of four) and saying: "Some will find it exciting. Some will find it an opportunity for an examination of conscience. Some will leave feeling vaguely uneasy. Some won't like it and will be absolutely sure why they don't, but their reasons will not agree. Some will hate elements that others can't even see. Some will only see a thriller. I find movies like this alive and provoking, and I'm exhilarated to have my thinking challenged at every step of the way."
Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle also enjoyed the film, saying: "In its overall shape and message, Lakeview Terrace is a conventional suspense thriller, but the details kick it up a notch. ... The fun of Lakeview Terrace is not in what happens but in how it happens." J.R. Jones of the Chicago Reader called the film "one of the toughest racial dramas to come out of Hollywood since the fires died down â" much tougher, for instance, than Paul Haggis's hand-wringing Oscar winner Crash."
Dennis Harvey of Variety said that Lakeview Terrace "delivers fairly tense and engrossing drama" but "succumb[s] to thriller convention." Anthony Lane of The New Yorker said that "the first hour of the film ... feels dangerous, necessary, and rife with comic disturbance," but added that "the later stages ... overheat and spill into silliness." James Berardinelli of ReelViews gave the film two stars out of four, saying that "the first two-thirds of Lakeview Terrace offer a little more subtlety and complexity than the seemingly straightforward premise would afford, but the climax is loud, dumb, generic, and over-the-top."
Wesley Morris of The Boston Globe said that "the movie might have something to say about black racism, but the conversations go nowhere, and the clichÃ©s of the genre take over." Sura Wood of The Hollywood Reporter said: "[The idea of] a black actor cast as the virulent bigot, with the object of his campaign of harassment the young interracial couple who move in next door, could be viewed as a novel twist. But the film, absent a sense of place and populated by repellent or weak characters, soon devolves into an increasingly foul litany of events." Joe Morgenstern of The Wall Street Journal gave it one half of a star out of five, and called the film a "joyless and airless suspense thriller."
On its opening weekend, the film grossed $15 million placing it at number one in the United States. The film grossed $39.2 million in the United States and Canada and $3.2 million in other territories, making $42.4 million worldwide.
Real life inspiration
The plot was loosely based on real life events in Altadena, California involving an interracial couple, John and Mellaine Hamilton, and Irsie Henry, an African-American Los Angeles police officer. The saga was documented in a series of articles in both the Pasadena Star News and the Pasadena Weekly beginning in 2002. Journalist Andre Coleman received a Los Angeles' Press Club Award for Excellence in Journalism for his series of articles in the Weekly. Henry was eventually fired by LAPD for his actions.
Lakeview Terrace was released on January 27, 2009 and sold 1,194,420 units. It raised $20,119,729, slightly more than the film's budget.
- List of films featuring home invasions
- Official website
- Lakeview Terrace at the Internet Movie Database
- Lakeview Terrace at AllMovie
- Lakeview Terrace at Rotten Tomatoes
- Lakeview Terrace at Box Office Mojo
- Lakeview Terrace debuts in top spot at box office CNN
- "Press Club Award"
- "Pasadena Weekly - Copping Out"
- "Pasadena Weekly - Art Imitates Life"
- "Pasadena Weekly - Extremely Disturbing Behavior"
- "HENRY v. CITY OF LOS ANGELES"