Relive the 90s with Neil Labute and Lakeview Terrace! The logical impulse is to ignore Labute till he goes away, as with fellow PC-era bad-boy Todd Solondz. And his Wicker Man remake certainly looked like a curtain-dropping flop (YouTube clip keywords: “unintentional comedy”). But here comes Lakeview Terrace — a feeble, mechanical race-baiter that confirms the acclaimed playwright’s calling as a kind of exploitation director for right-minded liberals.
This time, the “harsh and unforgiving chronicler of men’s darkest impulses” (per Ben Brantley of the Times) tells the vexing suburban tale of a nutty black cop and his new neighbors, a mixed-race couple. Old-schooler Abel (Samuel L. Jackson) undertakes all manner of mischief and harassment to dislodge yupsters Chris and Lisa (Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington). When he hires a drug-dealing informant to trash their house, it’s not even the thriller’s climax; that would be the California wild fires that have been simmering portentously in the background all film. The director’s usual plot contrivances and false notes abound.
Labute’s next project has already been announced: he will script a remake of a Truffaut film.