Lakeview Terrace

Neil LaBute ("Nurse Betty," "Possession" and "The Wicker Man") seems to understand the inner workings of men's brains: what motivates them and what frightens them. Or at least that's how it looks to me.

We start our story in an idyllic upscale L.A. cul-de-sac. Samuel L. Jackson ("Snakes on a Plane," "Star Wars" and "Coach Carter") is quietly tending his greenery as a U-Haul trailer and a car pull into the driveway next door. He makes no bones about spying on his new neighbor and quickly ascertains that they are a mixed-race couple; Patrick Wilson ("Little Children" and "Phantom of the Opera") is the husband and Kerry Washington ("The Last King of Scotland" and "Miracle at St. Anna") is his wife. They are both excited and apprehensive at the prospect of being first-time home owners.

Minor annoyances quickly escalate to major aggravations. It becomes increasingly clear that Jackson's character, a widowed Los Angeles policeman, does NOT approve of the relationship, nor of having a couple like them live next door to his two growing children. He feels it sends a bad message to his own youngsters in their formative years. There is an ever-present foreshadowing of an out-of-control brush fire in the nearby hills encroaching on that part of the city.

Certain aspects of the story seemed predictable, and yet as a whole, it didn't go where I expected. To me, this is a plus, even though I found some of those directions to be unsettling. I was pleased to see Ron Glass ("Firefly" and "Serenity") as Kerry Washington's wealthy and disapproving father. It's clear that he too, is NOT happy with his daughter's mixed-race marriage.

The violence that we see is not out of reason and the gunfire is predictable. No blowie uppie stuff...