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"You guys are lucky. You have a cop livin' next door..."
Chris and Lisa Mattsen are a young, recently married interracial couple who have just moved into a "starter home" in an upper-middle class neighborhood near Los Angeles, California. Looking forward to starting their brand new life together, the Mattsen's have few worries aside from getting settled in, and when they should start talking about starting a family. That is, until they meet their new neighbor, Abel Turner.
Abel is an old-fashioned, conservative beat cop who has spent the last several years after his wife's death raising his two children in the very same neighborhood. He disapproves of Chris and Lisa's relationship, and wastes little time in letting them know how he feels about it... even going so far as to make vague threats, turn his security lights so that they shine directly into the couple's bedroom window, and sabotaging things around the house. When Chris responds in kind in an effort to show Abel that they are there to stay, the situation quickly escalates. With no fear from police interference due to being a cop himself, Abel becomes increasingly determined to drive his new neighbors out, and is willing to use any means necessary to do it.
Lakeview Terrace is a 2008 film directed by Neil LaBute (Death at a Funeral) and produced by Will Smith. The film stars Samuel L. Jackson, Patrick Wilson (The a Team), and Kerry Washington (I Think I Love My Wife).
Lakeview Terrace includes examples of:
- Abusive Parents: Abel. The sad irony is, on some level, he genuinely means well and wants the best for his children, but his uber-strict and controlling ways turn him into this.
- Actor Allusion: This isn't the first time Samuel L. Jackson has played an LAPD cop who uses his position to harass someone...
- Alas, Poor Villain: Abel at the end.
- Bad Cop, Incompetent Cop: While Abel (played by Samuel L. Jackson) is harassing the Mattsens, the rest of the police force turns a blind eye to his actions until it's too late.
- Batman Gambit: The final scene. Chris knows Abel can use his influence to get the cops on his side if he surrenders, so he taunts Abel about his late wife's affair until Abel commits Suicide by Cop.
- Black Gal on White Guy Drama: Basically what this movie is all about.
- Cranky Neighbor: Abel, turned Up to Eleven. He will stop at nothing to get rid of the new couple in the neighborhood.
- Dead Little Sister: The event that ultimately drove Turner to focus his rage on the young interracial couple is revealed to be the death of his wife, who was killed in a car accident while on her way to meet her white boss... who she was having an affair with.
- Dirty Cop: Abel Turner is shown to be a man who won't hesitate to break the rules to get whatever he wants, whether it's at home or on the job.
- Double Standard Rape (Female on Male): Averted. In one of the most disturbing scenes in the movie Abel has his friends hold down Chris while he's sexually assaulted by a stripper. When his wife finds the video in her mailbox the next day, she knows damn well Chris was assaulted.
- Hey, It's That Guy!: Lisa's father is Book!
- The Informant: Clarence Darlington is a small time drug dealer and Abel Turner's informant.
- Maligned Mixed Marriage: Abel's harrassment towards Chris and Lisa Mattsen, played by Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington is based on his racist attitudes, and the fact that they're a mixed race couple.
- Meaningful Name: Jackson's character Abel is no stranger to betrayal.
- Monster Sob Story: If you take a look on Abel's backstory you should feel more pity for him even if he's an arrogant and racist jerkass.
- The Place
- Trailers Always Spoil: A rare inversion. The fact that Abel is a policeman is no secret or twist in the film, but the trailer doesn't reveal this until about half way through. This gets the audience much more interested in seeing it by showing that the plot of this film is much more intense.
- Screw the Rules, I Make Them: Displayed in chilling fashion by an exchange between Lisa and Abel.
Lisa: "Get off of my property!"
Abel: "Or what? You'll call the cops? Here, use my phone. I can tell you exactly who is on duty."
- Shown Their Work: Until about the third act, Abel's behavior (especially toward his daughter) is a disturbingly accurate depiction of an abusive law enforcement officer using techniques learned on the job at home.
- Rule of Symbolism: Pay attention to what people drink in this movie: the first thing we see is Abel drinking a glass of water in the morning; Chris drinks water later on, but only after his first altercation with Abel. When they agree to meet in a bar to discuss the matter between, Chris conspicuously orders water, but Abel is drinking alcohol. Water puts out fires. Alcohol is an accelerant.
- That and the raging fire happening in the background.
- Scary Black Man: It's Samuel L. Jackson, what did you expect?
- Too Dumb to Live: The criminal Abel hired to trash the couple's house. Shall we recap? He's over six feet tall and weighs about 300 lbs and he was wearing a ski mask and yet thought it would be a good idea to grab Lisa and tell her "calm down" instead of hightailing it out of the house before anyone showed up? Brilliant, sir.
- Two-Person Pool Party: While Abel already disapproves of the Mattsens as a couple along with their liberal attitudes, his children seeing the pair getting hot and heavy in their swimming pool one evening doesn't help matters.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: Abel's kids were away visiting their aunt when the movie's final scene went down. What happens when they come home and find out their father was shot to death by cops because he was trying to murder his neighbors?
- Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Well, Abel doesn't want to detroy the world, but just his neighbors.