Lakeview Terrace

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For the Los Angeles neighborhood, see Lake View Terrace, Los Angeles, California.
Lakeview Terrace
Lakeview Terrace poster.jpg
Theatrical release poster
Directed by Neil LaBute
Produced by James Lassiter
Will Smith
Screenplay by David Loughery
Howard Korder
Story by David Loughery
Starring Samuel L. Jackson
Patrick Wilson
Kerry Washington
Music by Jeff Danna
Mychael Danna
Cinematography Rogier Stoffers
Edited by Joel Plotch
Distributed by Screen Gems
Release dates
  • September 19, 2008 (2008-09-19)
Running time
106 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $20 million
Box office $44,653,637 [1]

Lakeview Terrace is a 2008 American thriller film[2] 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.


A young interracial couple named Chris and Lisa Mattson (Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington) are recently married begin moving in next door, buying their first home. Chris’s first exchanges with longtime LAPD detective Abel Turner (Samuel L. Jackson) have somewhat hostile undertones, with Abel making comments about Chris’ smoking and listening to hip hop music. The following night, Chris and Lisa have sex in their swimming pool. Unknown to them, Abel's children Marcus and Celia watch them. 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. One evening, Chris and Lisa hear noises downstairs, and find the tires of Chris' car slashed, suspecting Abel and calling the police. However, because of Abel's status within the LAPD, the arriving officers are unable to do anything.

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. 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. 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'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. Abel enters the Mattsons' home, hoping to retrieve a cell phone which Clarence left behind. Before he can find it, Lisa and Chris unexpectedly return from the hospital and Abel returns to his home. While the Mattsons are packing to leave, Chris discovers the cell phone under their bed and picks it up, dialing the last number logged on the phone and hearing 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, and he and Chris struggle. Before Lisa can escape, Abel shoots her car, causing her to crash into a parked car. After pistol whipping Abel and seemingly knocking him out, Chris rescues Lisa. Hiding his gun behind his back, Abel insists that he is unarmed, shoots Chris, and is 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.


Filming locations[edit]

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.[3]


Critical reaction to Lakeview Terrace has been mixed. Rotten Tomatoes reported that 45% of critics gave positive reviews based on 161 reviews.[4] On Metacritic, critics gave an average score of 47/100 based on 28 reviews.[5]

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."[6]

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."[7] 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."[8]

Dennis Harvey of Variety said that Lakeview Terrace "delivers fairly tense and engrossing drama" but "succumb[s] to thriller convention."[9] 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."[10] 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."[11]

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."[12] 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."[13] 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."[14]

On its opening weekend, the film grossed $15 million placing it at number one in the United States.[15] The film grossed $39.2 million in the United States and Canada and $3.2 million in other territories, making $42.4 million worldwide.[16]

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. The saga was documented in a series of articles in both the Pasadena Star News and the Pasadena Weekly beginning in 2002.[17] Journalist Andre Coleman received a Los Angeles' Press Club Award for Excellence in Journalism for his series of articles in the Weekly.[18] Henry was eventually fired by LAPD for his actions.[19]

DVD sales[edit]

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.[20]

See also[edit]


  1. ^
  2. ^ Buchanan, Jason. "Lakeview Terrace". Allmovie. Retrieved 4 September 2012. 
  3. ^ "Grevillea Ave. and 126th St, CA - Google Maps". Google. Retrieved 10 August 2009. 
  4. ^ "Lakeview Terrace Movie Reviews, Pictures". Rotten Tomatoes. Retrieved 21 September 2008. 
  5. ^ "Lakeview Terrace (2008):Reviews". Metacritic. Retrieved 21 September 2008. 
  6. ^ Lakeview Terrace review, Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times, September 18, 2008
  7. ^ Lakeview Terrace review, Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle,
  8. ^ Lakeview Terrace review, J.R. Jones, Chicago Reader
  9. ^ Lakeview Terrace review, Dennis Harvey, Variety
  10. ^ Lakeview Terrace review, Anthony Lane, The New Yorker
  11. ^ Lakeview Terrace review, James Berardinelli, ReelViews
  12. ^ Lakeview Terrace review, Wesley Morris, Boston Globe
  13. ^ Lakeview Terrace review, Sura Wood, The Hollywood Reporter
  14. ^ Lakeview Terrace review, Joe Morgenstern, Wall Street Journal
  15. ^ "Weekend Box Office Results from 9/19 to 9/21". Box Office Mojo. 2008-09-21. Retrieved 26 November 2008. 
  16. ^ "Lakeview Terrace (2008)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 26 November 2008. 
  17. ^ Coleman, Andre (8 August 2008). "Art imitating headlines: New movie mirrors former cop's ongoing racial feud with neighbors". Pasadena Weekly. Retrieved 12 August 2012. 
  18. ^ Piasecki, Joe, Uhrich, Kevin & Stolz, Kit (26 June 2008). "Weekly wins Press Club awards". Pasadena Weekly. Retrieved 12 August 2012. 
  19. ^ "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 12 August 2012. 
  20. ^

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