Lakeview Terrace

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

Lakeview Terrace
A bald police officer with sunglasses in a car looks toward the viewer. Below him shows the actor who plays him, the title, statement, production credits and release date.
Theatrical release poster
Directed byNeil LaBute
Screenplay by
Story byDavid Loughery
Produced by
CinematographyRogier Stoffers
Edited byJoel Plotch
Music by
Distributed bySony Pictures Releasing
Release date
  • September 19, 2008 (2008-09-19)
Running time
110 minutes
CountryUnited States
Budget$20 million[1]
Box office$44.7 million[1]

Lakeview Terrace is a 2008 American crime thriller film[2] directed by Neil LaBute, written by David Loughery and Howard Korder, co-produced by James Lassiter and Will Smith, and starring Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington. Jackson plays a racist Black Los Angeles Police Department police officer who terrorizes his new next-door neighbors (Wilson and Washington) because they are an interracially married couple. The title is a reference to the ethnically mixed middle class Los Angeles neighborhood of Lake View Terrace.

The film was released on September 19, 2008, received mixed reviews and grossed $44 million.


A newlywed interracial couple, Chris and Lisa Mattson, are moving into their first home. Chris's first exchanges with their neighbor, widowed and longtime LAPD African American policeman Abel Turner, have somewhat hostile undertones, with Abel making comments about Chris' smoking (which Abel later exposes to Lisa) and listening to hip hop music, and making remarks about his race in his relationship with Lisa. The following night, Chris and Lisa have sex in their swimming pool. Unbeknownst to them, Abel's children, Marcus and Celia, are watching them. Abel arrives home and witnesses the spectacle. Angered, he repositions his house security floodlights to shine into Chris and Lisa's bedroom window, keeping them awake.

Abel begins to insinuate to Chris that he disapproves of his marriage and that he wants them to move out of their new neighborhood. One evening, Chris and Lisa hear noises downstairs and find the tires on Chris' car slashed. Suspecting Abel, they call the police, who are unable to do anything because of Abel's status within the LAPD. Chris retaliates by shining his own floodlights into Abel's bedroom. Lisa later reveals she is pregnant, creating conflict with Chris, who does not yet want children. Meanwhile, Abel is suspended without pay for abusing a suspect, inciting more fury within him.

Abel continues harassing the couple by hosting a loud bachelor party with his colleagues where he forces Chris to be sexually harassed by a stripper. Chris later plants trees along the fence between their properties, which leads to a near-violent exchange, as Abel objects to having trees hanging over his property. When Chris goes to a local bar, Abel enters and tells Chris that his own wife died in a traffic accident while alone with her white male employer, even though she was supposed to be nursing an elderly Jewish patient, leading him to believe that she was being unfaithful. The tragedy and his suspicions left him with a hatred for whites and interracial relationships. Trying to justify his bigotry, Abel accuses Chris and all Caucasian men of trying to take whatever and whoever they want.

Abel sends his informant, Clarence Darlington, to trash the Mattson's home in another effort to scare them out. Lisa arrives home early, surprising Clarence. They struggle and Lisa is knocked out, but not before she triggers the alarm. Chris races home, followed by a frustrated Abel. When Abel comes across his hired hoodlum trying to escape, he kills him in order to keep him quiet. Lisa is rushed to the hospital, but recovers.

Wildfires are raging in the surrounding hills and the residents are instructed to leave their homes. Abel, who remains behind, enters the Mattsons' home, hoping to retrieve Clarence's dropped cell phone, fearing that it will incriminate him. Lisa and Chris unexpectedly return from the hospital before Abel finds the phone, and he leaves. While the Mattsons pack to evacuate, Chris finds the cell phone. He calls the last number dialed and hears Abel answer.

Chris realizes Abel is responsible for the break-in, and Abel realizes Chris has discovered the phone. Abel goes over with his gun drawn, and he and Chris struggle. Before Lisa can escape, Abel shoots her car, causing her to crash into a parked vehicle. After pistol-whipping Abel and seemingly knocking him unconscious, Chris tries to free Lisa from the car. Abel fires his gun at Chris but misses, and Chris holds Abel's other gun at him while telling him to stay back.

Hiding his gun in the back of his pants, Abel claims he is unarmed when LASD deputy sheriffs arrive on the scene. The deputies demand Chris drop his gun, while ordering Abel not move any further, uncertain of who the aggressor is. His wife begs him to comply and Abel tells him to listen to her. Remembering the corrupt cop’s previous admission, Chris retorts that Abel should have listened to his wife and tauntingly asks if he foresaw her betrayal, implying that his belligerent attitude drove her to cheat on him. Provoked into a fit of rage, Abel pulls out his backup revolver and shoots Chris in the shoulder. His true nature exposed, Abel is unceremoniously gunned down and killed by his former colleagues.

Chris survives the shooting, and in the ambulance, he and Lisa talk about their pride in their home, neighborhood, and soon-to-be family, while the wildfires finally seem to be contained.



Real life inspiration[edit]

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.[3] The saga was documented in a series of articles in both the Pasadena Star News and the Pasadena Weekly beginning in 2002.[4] Journalist Andre Coleman received a Los Angeles' Press Club Award for Excellence in Journalism for his series of articles in the Weekly.[5] Henry was eventually fired by the LAPD for his actions.[6]


The majority of the film was shot 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.[7]


Critical response[edit]

On Rotten Tomatoes, the film holds an approval rating of 44% based on 167 reviews, with an average rating of 5.50/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "This thriller about a menacing cop wreaking havoc on his neighbors is tense enough but threatens absurdity when it enters into excessive potboiler territory."[8] On Metacritic, the film has an average weighted score of 47 out of 100, based on 28 critics, indicating "mixed or average reviews".[9] Audiences polled by CinemaScore gave the film an average grade of "C+" on an A+ to F scale.[10]

Roger Ebert of the Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a very positive review, awarding it his highest rating of four stars 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."[11]

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."[12] 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 – much tougher, for instance, than Paul Haggis's hand-wringing Oscar winner Crash."[13]

Dennis Harvey of Variety said that Lakeview Terrace "delivers fairly tense and engrossing drama" but "succumb[s] to thriller convention."[14] 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."[15] 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."[16]

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 clichés of the genre take over."[17] 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."[18] 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."[19]

Box office[edit]

In its opening weekend the film grossed $15 million, placing it at number one in the United States.[20] The film went on to gross $39.2 million in the United States and Canada, and $3.2 million in other territories, for a total of $42.4 million worldwide.[1]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b c "Lakeview Terrace (2008)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved October 31, 2017.
  2. ^ Buchanan, Jason. "Lakeview Terrace". Allmovie. Retrieved September 4, 2012.
  3. ^ "'Extremely Disturbing' Behavior". Pasadena Weekly. August 30, 2007. Archived from the original on November 22, 2020. Retrieved January 28, 2024.
  4. ^ Coleman, Andre (August 8, 2008). "Art imitating headlines: New movie mirrors former cop's ongoing racial feud with neighbors". Pasadena Weekly. Retrieved August 1, 2021.
  5. ^ Piasecki, Joe; Uhrich, Kevin; Stolz, Kit (June 26, 2008). "Weekly wins Press Club awards". Pasadena Weekly. Retrieved August 1, 2021.
  6. ^ "HENRY v. CITY OF LOS ANGELES, IRSIE HENRY Plaintiff and Appellant, v. CITY OF LOS ANGELES et al., Defendants and Respondents. No. B213148". May 14, 2010. Retrieved August 1, 2021.
  7. ^ "Grevillea Ave. and 126th St, CA - Google Maps". Google Maps. Retrieved August 10, 2009.
  8. ^ "Lakeview Terrace (2008)". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved November 1, 2017.
  9. ^ "Lakeview Terrace Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved September 21, 2008.
  10. ^ Busch, Anita; D'Alessandro, Anthony (September 12, 2016). "'Sully' Lands At $35M, 'Bough' Breaks With $14.2M – Monday B.O. Final". Deadline Hollywood.
  11. ^ Ebert, Roger (September 18, 2008). "Good fences make bad neighbors". Chicago Sun-Times.
  12. ^ Lakeview Terrace review Archived September 22, 2008, at the Wayback Machine, Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle,
  13. ^ Lakeview Terrace review Archived 21 September 2008 at the Wayback Machine, J.R. Jones, Chicago Reader
  14. ^ Lakeview Terrace review Archived July 19, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, Dennis Harvey, Variety
  15. ^ Lakeview Terrace review Archived June 6, 2013, at the Wayback Machine, Anthony Lane, The New Yorker
  16. ^ Lakeview Terrace review Archived September 28, 2017, at the Wayback Machine, James Berardinelli, ReelViews
  17. ^ Lakeview Terrace review Archived February 5, 2009, at the Wayback Machine, Wesley Morris, Boston Globe
  18. ^ Lakeview Terrace review Archived March 29, 2010, at the Wayback Machine, Sura Wood, The Hollywood Reporter
  19. ^ Lakeview Terrace review Archived November 28, 2017, at the Wayback Machine, Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
  20. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results from 9/19 to 9/21". Box Office Mojo. September 21, 2008. Retrieved November 26, 2008.

External links[edit]