Lakeview Terrace

Movie review by
Renee Schonfeld, Common Sense Media
Lakeview Terrace Movie Poster Image
Scary, racism-themed thriller isn't for kids.
  • PG-13
  • 2008
  • 110 minutes

Parents say

age 14+
Based on 3 reviews

Kids say

age 12+
Based on 8 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

The plot revolves around an African-American man's subtle and overt prejudice toward a mixed-race couple. Constant references to racial stereotypes and a parody of African-American behavior and language mostly by seemingly self-deprecating African-American character. A police officer exhibits aggressive behavior, a hot temper, and racist sensibility.


Point-blank shooting of a conspirator by a policeman is followed by a bloody fall into a swimming pool; shots are fired through the door into an apartment with a woman and child inside; police officer with gun chases suspect; a man holds a gun to his own neck, threatening suicide; a policeman punches a suspect hard with rifle; a father slaps his teen daughter in the face with great force; attempted rape of the pregnant lead female character; final bloody chase and shootout includes fierce physical fight, car crash, and multiple direct bullet hits.


A married couple hugs and kisses lovingly in many scenes and engage in post-sex cuddling on one occasion; a man is glimpsed in the nude from behind; scantily dressed lap dancers perform briefly and try to entice men at a bachelor party; two children watch a married couple embracing and kissing in a swimming pool.


Frequent use of words like "s--t," "bitch," the many permutations of "ass," "hell," "bastard," and "dammit" occasional use of more intense cursing: "f--k," "p---y," "prick." One use of the "N" word.


U-Haul truck, RE/MAX Realty sign.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

A lead character sneaks cigarettes and smokes in private. Social drinking in several scenes: neighborhood parties, wine with dinner, relaxing with a beer, drinking in moderation in a bar. Heavy drinking and drunkenness depicted at a bachelor party.

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the plot of this film -- which has very strong content for a PG-13 -- is driven by escalating violence, cruelty, and racism (much of it directed toward a racially mixed couple). A policeman is portrayed as unbalanced, aggressive, and threatening. Gunshots are fired out of and near an apartment where a husband holds his wife and baby hostage, and shoot-outs at close range result in the bloody deaths of two men. A policeman punches a suspect with a rifle, slaps his teen daughter in the face, and breaks the law to cover up his actions. Mildly sexual scenes involve a caring husband and wife kissing and hugging, with partial male nudity seen from the rear. There's also a fair amount of strong language (including "s--t" and "f--k"), smoking, and social drinking.

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bymickeydwampole April 18, 2019

Not for the Young Kiddies

It's a really good psychological thriller.
You know the good feeling you get when you know a police officer lives in your neighborhood? The Mattsons felt t... Continue reading
Adult Written by4Spice October 24, 2009

okay 12 and up

has some funny parts and some good points but not worth buying 12 and over for violence and sex if you guys want to see a classic that Sam Jackson plays in with... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written bytheboysbros November 6, 2019


i'm going to count all the swears in order (TRUE)-

sh*t, connection bulls**t, this sh*t, your a*s, cherokee bitch, dumb a*s, s**t aside, fake a*s, and sh*... Continue reading
Teen, 13 years old Written byzc97 March 18, 2010
I think it was a good movie, but it has too many inappropriate things. Don't let your kids watch it.

What's the story?

When racially mixed couple Lisa and Chris Mattson (Kerry Washington and Patrick Wilson) arrive in their new suburban Los Angeles neighborhood, they're greeted with hostility by Abel Turner (Samuel L. Jackson), their African-American next-door neighbor. Rigid and seething with irra'ional latent anger, Abel -- a policeman who's raising two children by himself -- is the self-appointed marshal of Lakeview Terrace, and he's threatened by the Mattsons' Yuppie values, as well as the racial implications of their marriage. A series of confrontations heightens the antagonism and sets the neighbors against each other, escalating into a dangerous struggle -- all as a wildfire threatens to destroy the community.

Is it any good?

The early scenes of LAKEVIEW TERRACE are promising. There's solid dialogue, a commanding performance by Jackson, and a thought-provoking twist that finds the super-bright African-American character portrayed as a bigot. Unfortunately, as the movie moves toward its formulaic, blood-spattered conclusion, these elements are misused, even exploited, to tell a routine story that's heavy with violence and too-obvious menace.

The filmmakers make a cursory effort to explain their villain's motives, but it's flimsy and comes too late. A subplot dealing with the marital problems aggravated by the young couple's predicament is well-intended but unoriginal and tedious. Director Neil LaBute is noted for his provocative filmmaking, but this is one of his lesser efforts.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how and why the filmmakers use racism to update the age-old story of feuding neighbors. Is this an effective choice? Why or why not? Is the movie trying to equate the danger of the advancing wildfires to the danger of the advancing personal racism? How do the climaxes of both events work together to resolve the story? What other issues come into play in the movie besides race?

Movie details

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