While director Neil Labute made quite an impact with the powerful, incredibly dark and hard drama, "In the Company of Men", which - it could be argued - launched the career of actor Aaron Eckhart. While LaBute's next efforts - such as "Your Friends and Neighbors" and "Possession" - were generally well-reviewed, the director's career ran into some considerable trouble with 2007's awful remake of "The Wicker Man". "Lakeview Terrace", produced by Will Smith's Overbrook company, is an improvement over "Terrace", but not a film that revisits the strengths that LaBute showed in his earlier efforts.
"Lakeview Terrace" stars Samuel L. Jackson as Abel, a LAPD officer who is strict when it comes to trying to raise his two kids - Celia and Marcus (Regine Nehy and Jaishon Fisher) - on his own in the Lakeside Terrace community. Early one morning, he sees an interracial couple, Chris and Lisa Mattson (Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington) moving into the house next door.
While the newly married couple is thrilled to be moving into their first house, they are given a chilly reception by Abel, who merely glares at them when they pass by. While things start with a vague hint of dislike, the tension between the couple and the cop grows quickly. After spotting the young couple getting frisky in their pool, Abel becomes furious.
After a few incidents (including tampering with his air conditioner and installing ultra-bright security lights that shine - coincidentally enough - right towards his house), Chris becomes convinced that his neighbor is trying to force him and his wife out of the community (while out for a walk one night, Abel indirectly tells him as much.)
Soon, the previously happy couple is finding that their relationship is showing some fractures due to the stress that the situation with Abel is putting on the relationship.The film's chess match of mild incidents and subtle chills in the first half of the movie works better than the second half, as the incidents start to go over-the-top as the movie heads towards a stereotypical thriller climax.
The performances are fine, although Washington's good-hearted, emotional effort is the most enjoyable aspect of the film. Jackson brings remarkable, slow-boil intensity as the angry, bitter cop, and the performance creates a sense of dread as it gradually builds. Wilson is also enjoyable as the young man who dreams of a quiet suburban life and finds himself in an unexpected battle.
"Lakeview Terrace" starts off showing some potential, but the uneven movie doesn't have a good handle on where the story is headed and ultimately heads towards a very conventional thriller ending.
VIDEO: "Lakeview Terrace" is presented by Sony Pictures Home Entertainment in 2.40:1 (1080p/AVC) The majority of the film offers a bright, sun-drenched look, which is generally presented well by this transfer. Sharpness and detail are above-average, as while some scenes did look mildly softer, the picture mostly looked crisp and well-defined. Some minor instances of edge enhancement proved to be a bit of a distraction at times, but the film otherwise didn't show any other significant concerns: no print flaws were seen and only a few minor instances of noise were spotted. Colors looked warm and well-saturated, never appearing smeary or otherwise problematic. While this presentation fell a bit short of what the best high-def presentations offer, it was still a more than satisfactory effort from the studio.
SOUND: The film is presented in Dolby TrueHD 5.1. The film's audio is generally subtle and dialogue-driven, but there are still certainly some instances of ambience heard from the surrounds at times during the exterior scenes. Still, much of the audio is forward-oriented, which is to be expected, given the material. Audio quality was fine, with crisp, well-recorded dialogue and effects.
EXTRAS: Director Neil LaBute and actress Kerry Washington offer a very good commentary, sharing their thoughts on the story, the development of the film, working with the other actors and more. The two keep up the discussion well throughout the running time. Also offered are deleted scenes with optimal commentary and "Welcome to Lakeview Terrance", which is a series of three basic featurettes regarding the production. Previews for other Sony titles are also included.
Final Thoughts: "Lakeview Terrace" starts off showing some potential, but the ending should have been rethought. The Blu-Ray edition boasts very good audio/video quality, as well as a nice set of supplemental features.
The Film B-