Odd view from ‘Lakeview Terrace’

Neil LaBute’s 2006 remake of “The Wicker Man” found the director and sometimes playwright’s talent for incisive, often unsettling character portraits wasted on a lumbering exercise in self-parody. </p>

His curious follow-up, “Lake-view Terrace,” returns him to more familiar territory: A world on which one man’s distaste for his neighbors’ mixed marriage leads first to petty hostilities and later to something more serious.

That man is Abel Turner (Samuel L. Jackson), a 28-year veteran of the Los Angeles police force and a stern widower who tells his children what to wear, how to think, even which basketball greats — Shaq, not Kobe — they’re allowed to cheer for.

Abel is, to put it mildly, a control freak, the booming voice of hysterical conservatism and racist paranoia who flies into a rage when his bellicose pronouncements are ignored. Even in his calmer moments, he creates an atmosphere of unease with his baleful stare and icy insinuations.

Abel is on an increasingly deranged mission to rid his neighborhood of newcomers Chris (Patrick Wilson, of “Little Children”) and Lisa (Kerry Washington), an interracial couple whose free-spirited liberalism has no place on his turf. His disdain manifests itself in a series of cutting remarks and thinly veiled threats before graduating to vandalism and worse.

“Lakeview Terrace,” which begins as a tense, compelling tale of ideological opposites headed for an ugly clash, ends in contrived melodrama as Abel completes his transformation from badge-waving bully to bogeyman.

LaBute’s films have often reflected a fascination with the evil that men do, perhaps none more so than his singularly grim debut, 1997’s “In the Company of Men.”

“Lakeview Terrace,” which LaBute did not write, is no less affecting when it treats its characters as human beings rather than as stock players in an increasingly cliché-ridden thriller.

In the early going, Abel is just complex enough to be intriguing — unreasonable and intolerant, yes, but somehow sympathetic in his struggle to hold his own family together.

By the final frame, he is a monster hiding behind his shield, a caricature guided not by principle but by raving bloodlust.

Movie Review

Lakeview Terrace
Two and a haf stars
Starring Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Wilson, Kerry Washington, Ron Glass, Justin Chambers
Written by David Loughery, Howard Korder
Directed by Neil LaBute
Rated PG-13
Running time: 1 hour 46 minutes

Just Posted

New Chinatown station to be named for Rose Pak, but opponents vow to keep fighting

Debate over power broker’s legacy exposes deep rifts in Chinese community

City shutting down long-term mental health beds to expand hospital Navigation Center

The City is preparing to close dozens of permanent, residential treatment beds… Continue reading

Hundreds of guns come in to California from Nevada. Lawmakers want to stop it

Two dozen California legislators on Wednesday asked their counterparts in the neighboring state to meet this fall to discuss strengthening restrictions on firearms.

Trump wants to lift restrictions on how long it can hold migrant families

The Trump administration is moving to end a court settlement limiting its ability to hold migrants.

Free speech group sues city over raids on journalist

Free speech advocates filed a lawsuit Tuesday seeking to force the San… Continue reading

Most Read