The best that can be said about Lakeview Terrace is that it's never boring. This episode of Neil LaBute's misanthropic hysteria moves from the fear of powerful women in his other movies to racial paranoia.

Yes, racism is a subject of Lakeview Terrace, and LaBute aims to provoke by making his aggressor an educated black man. But it's dealt with such one-sided fearfulness as to be wholly negative.

Abel (Samuel L. Jackson) is a single parent who resents that his new neighbours, Chris and Lisa (Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington), are an interracial couple. He makes their lives hell, and they can't stop him---he's a cop.

LaBute's cheap tact is to make Chris completely reasonable, and Abel belligerent and mentally unstable. Abel taunts Chris for being married to a black woman, as LaBute's stereotypes (Abel thinks it's OK to hit his daughter, and gives Chris a hard time for playing rap music in his car) mystify. Jackson is playing "The Other: The Malicious Black Threat" who can't be reasoned with. It's fake provocation, made out of small-minded anger rather than the humanistic interest in what makes people different and the same that LaBute never shows.

I'll give LaBute this: Following his remake of The Wicker Man, he's one of the only filmmakers willing to risk unfashionable social critiques within the mainstream. This time he's losing the argument. Lakeview Terraceleaves no issues to discuss, just built-up resistance against its maker's cruelty.

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