Lakeview Terrace ★★★

"It's his word against yours. And he has, let's say, the color issue on his side. And that color happens to be blue."

Lakeview Terrace is a thriller that some consider to be underrated. This film has always been on my radar after reading Roger Ebert's four star review, but most critics didn't really dig this film. I wasn't blown away by it like Ebert, but I still enjoyed this suspenseful thriller thanks mostly to Samuel L. Jackson's crazy eyed performance. If someone you know is complaining about their neighbors, then recommend them this film and I guarantee you they will never complain again. Compared to director, Neil LaBute's, previous film, The Wicker Man, this is a masterpiece. The film does manage to maintain a certain level of suspense and the characters are well developed, but the final act is a bit of a letdown. The film lacks some subtlety at times, but it did keep me at the edge of my seat throughout most of its running time. LaBute wasn't afraid to hold back on the racial comments and Jackson's character was very outspoken about it; he definitely succeeds at making the audience feel uncomfortable with several remarks.

Chris Mattson (Patrick Wilson) and his wife Lisa (Kerry Washington), arrive to their new home in sunny California despite the news reports of several wildfires across the area. They are a recently married couple and are excited about having purchased their first home together. Lisa's father (Ron Glass) is ready to head back home after having finished helping with all the moving, meanwhile Chris and Lisa meet their new neighbor, Abel (Samuel L. Jackson), who happens to be an LA police officer and so they feel even more secure about their purchase. What they never see coming however is that Abel is a very strict man who doesn't approve of their interracial marriage. Not feeling comfortable with their presence, Abel who lives with his son Marcus (Jaishon Fisher) and daughter Celia (Regine Nehy), begins to bully and threaten them in order to force them to move out of their new home. Abel also happens to be experiencing some struggles of his own back at work for his abusive behavior, so this cop doesn't seem to be the one you want to live close to.

Samuel L. Jackson is known mostly for playing a good guy in his movies, so getting to see him in this very different role felt like a breath of fresh air. He gives a terrifying performance here and his presence always made me feel uncomfortable. Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington also gave strong performances for a thriller like this considering they weren't the perfect couple. They each had flaws and their characters were developed really well. Unfortunately the movie doesn't end on a strong note and that is what ultimately brought it down for me. I still think this film is worth seeing for Samuel L. Jackson's performance, he carries the movie throughout its weak moments. The story may sound familiar considering it is a conventional thriller, but there are moments thanks mostly to the strong performances and well developed characters, that make this film stand above other films in its genre.