Image copyright © by Marcus Trahan

Lakeview Terrace


The husband is white, the wife is black. They move into a very nice neighborhood but they soon find out that the man next door is a racist cop. He’s controlling of his children, his neighborhood … everything around him. He tolerates no differing opinions on any subject. He is the macho sort who is constantly proving his manhood by needling those around him in a way that it’s almost impossible to respond to, and he is helped in this by his badge and uniform, which he abuses. The wife tells him to get off her property. “Or you’ll do what?” he sneers. “Call a cop?” They are pretty much helpless, because they are civilized, and he is not.
Ho hum. Only the cop is black, not white, played by Samuel L. Jackson. This is an interesting twist, and the first part of the movie builds tension well, tension of the sort that makes your stomach uneasy and your fists itch for revenge. The problem, for me, is that you’ve got no story if you do the sensible thing suggested by her father: move out. I understand that it would be a severe blow to the man’s ego—no one likes to back down to a bully—and there would be no guarantee that a mixed-race couple might not encounter similar problems in any neighborhood … but at least the racist neighbor would probably not be a cop, which makes all the difference. The other cops all believe his versions of events, and always will. You can’t beat this man in a “civilized” way, the only way to deal with this motherfucker is to kill him, and you can’t do that except in self-defense, and by the time he’s coming at you with intent to kill (as you know he eventually will) it’s probably too late, because he’s better at this than you are. Therefore: Move!
There are some good things here, but I can’t recommend it.