Los Angeles Times - 09/19/2008
"Jackson modulates Abel's internal turmoil and heated exchanges with enough shades of loneliness, steely generosity and wicked playfulness to give the actor firm control of our fascination and growing unease."
USA Today - 09/19/2008
"[LAKEVIEW TERRACE] delves often unflinchingly into issues of race, politics and class. Jackson's performance is mesmerizing."
Total Film - 11/01/2008 3 stars out of 5 -- "LaBute keeps the focus firmly on building up and paying off the tension in the film's swiftly unravelling showdown."
Empire - 01/01/2009 4 stars out of 5 -- "LAKEVIEW TERRACE is a canny, effective mix of personal concerns with commercial storytelling..."
A quick perusal of any of LAKEVIEW TERRACE's promotional materials--its nervy trailer, its foreboding (and painterly) dawn-hued poster featuring Samuel L. Jackson looking less-than-neighborly in his squad car--not only reveals it as a thriller, but offers up aesthetic evocations of several popular home-invasion suspensers made in the early 1990s. Like UNLAWFUL ENTRY and PACIFIC HEIGHTS, LAKEVIEW TERRACE takes place in upper-middle-class Californian suburbia. The film's ubiquitous purple sky and poolside lighting create an air of domestic bourgeois comfort just waiting to be upended by deadly social unease. In this mode, the surprises start when the film opens with intimate household scenes not of the film's purported heroes, an interracial couple who's about to move next-door, but of its not-entirely-apparent villain--a curiously middle-aged beat cop (Jackson) who raises a few eyebrows when he close-mindedly bullies his children, but seems sad and sympathetic. The cop, a black man named Abel Turner, watches blankly from his home when the first new neighbor he sees is an African-American wife (Kerry Washington)--and then reacts with quiet shock and disgust when he realizes that the white mover is actually her husband, Chris (Patrick Wilson). The invasion in this home-invasion thriller is, ironically, the one perceived by its psychologically damaged bad guy. Abel, offended and ostensibly law-immune, immediately begins jabbing Chris with a toxic passive-aggression that quickly becomes impossible to ignore. LAKEVIEW TERRACE adheres to a satisfying thriller construct. It's also a little interested in exploiting the archetypes of squirm-inducing domestic threat--all the nasty scenarios viewers recognize from those earlier movies--to consider several facets of American racism: its inevitability in familial and casual issues and its existence in liberal white guilt as much as its poisonous mixture with mental illness.
In Lakeview Terrace, 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 interracial 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 harassing to the newlyweds. These persistent intrusions into their lives ultimately turn tragic when the couple decides to fight back.