A young couple (Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington) has just moved into their California dream home when they become the target of their next-door neighbor, who disapproves of their relationship. A stern, single father, this tightly wound LAPD officer (Samuel L. Jackson) has appointed himself the watchdog of the neighborhood. His nightly foot patrols and overly watchful eyes bring comfort to some, but he becomes increasingly aggressive to the newlyweds. These persistent intrusions into their lives cause the couple to fight back.
The usually provocative Neil LaBute reigns in his more eccentric tendencies for this straightforward domestic thriller. Then again, LaBute, who divides his time between cinema and theater, didn't write the material. The bad vibes begin when Chris (Patrick Wilson) and Lisa Mattson (Kerry Washington) move in next door to widowed cop Abel Turner (Samuel L. Jackson, as nasty as Aaron Eckhart in LaBute's In the Company of Men
). A strict father of two, Turner works in a diverse unit (Jay Hernandez plays his partner), but takes less kindly to interracial relationships. From the start, he makes the Mattsons uncomfortable with inappropriate remarks and unwarranted intrusions, like the security light trained on their bedroom, under the guise of self-appointed neighborhood guardian. Initially, Turner's actions exacerbate the tensions between the seemingly happy pair--Lisa wants to start a family, Chris wants to wait--until they realize they'll have to work together to protect themselves from their troubled neighbor. And since he's a member of the LAPD, Turner's colleagues have his back, despite the break-ins and flat tires bedeviling the Mattsons. When they make it clear they intend to stay, Turner takes his harassment campaign to the next level. The A-list cast does what they can, but the B-movie script from Howard Korder and Passenger 57's
David Loughery, offers few surprises--at least to those who've seen Fatal Attraction
and The Hand That Rocks the Cradle
--and LaBute's by-the-books direction lacks its usual bite. --Kathleen C. Fennessy
Stills from Lakeview Terrace (click for larger image)