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Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Wilson, Kerry Washington, Jay Hernandez

Director: Neil LaBute

Writers: David Loughery, Howard Korder

Cinematography: Rogier Stoffers

Original Score: Jeff Danna, Mychael Danna

2008, a vintage year for thrillers, we’ve had Gone Baby Gone, Changeling, Body of Lies and now Lakeview Terrace can be well and truly added to that list. Harking back to the ‘psycho next door’ thriller’s of the late 80’s and early 90’s such as Fatal Attraction and The Hand That Rocks The Cradle LaBute’s film gives a masterclass in building tension to boiling point, but there is intelligence to match the thrills. Very much back on form after the dire Wicker Man remake, LaBute crafts what could quite easily have been no more than a straight to DVD and makes it one of the most intense viewing experiences you will hav had all year. 

It’s to the director’s credit that he manages to coax a career best turn from Jackson, an actor who was on the brink of becoming a parody of himself and nigh on cringeworthy to watch in the process (see Jumper, Cleaner and the Star Wars prequels) he has taken an about turn here. Forget the shouty bits you see in the trailer, he actually keeps the shouting to a bare minimum, and witness a nuanced turn that walks the fine line of being the psycho-villain of the piece whilst staying likeable and much more than a two dimensional fiend, only in the final throes of the film does he reach his shouty psychotic peak. 

Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington hold their own against the often over-powering Jackson instilling their chracters with as many flaws as their protagonist, Wilson in particular is almost as ‘unlikeable’ as Jackson. While Wilson does much the same as a harried house-husband as he did in Little Children, it is a character type he is perfect at playing, and in his scenes with Jackson their characters clash with just the right level of tension boiling beneath their words,

And what words, this is not, as I said before, your usual black and white thriller (pun intended) each of the main players have their issues with one another and somehow they all end up in relation to the issue of race, and most pertinantly the idea of mixed race couples. In dealing with racism a film tends to get labelled an ‘issue’ movie, no such fate here, it’s a subject dealt with in just the right way. Kudos must go to writers Loughery and Korder, for they take a very cliched topic and pull it together in such a way that it becomes much more thought provoking than any ‘issue movie’ your ever likely to see, but fundamentally it is entertaining and has a gripping story holding it together at once.  

VERIDICT

Much more than a sum of its parts, Samuel L. Jackson puts in a career best performance while LaBute rachets up the tension, gripping from start to finish. Its only inevitable that in the final few minutes does it become anything less than a superior thriller worthy of more than it’s B-Movie coating.

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