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Cody S. Brothers' The End of the Road (2007).

Why Can’t Neil LaBute Sell Out Properly?

Reviews have begun trickling in for next week's Lakeview Terrace and, predictably, they're not very good: The Hollywood Reporter says the film "devolves into an increasingly foul litany of events." Variety faults it for borrowing its ending from "formulaic thrillers." It's probably basically what you assumed it was when you saw Samuel L. Jackson hamming it up in the trailer — when was the last time this guy turned down a paycheck? But what the hell is Neil LaBute doing here?

Sure, the director-playwright doesn't have a spotless record. His debut film In the Company of Men, featuring a young Aaron Eckhart as an asshole who mercilessly plays with the life of a deaf co-worker, was a near-classic, and he followed it up with the well-received and similarly dark Your Friends and Neighbors and Nurse Betty. But his last few movies — including Possession and The Shape of Things — have been more modest and more or less ignored. Oh, plus 2006's The Wicker Man, which is a common yardstick for cinematic abominations. But at least it was a bizarre, epic failure! Lakeview Terrace seems more like forgettable, generic studio fare, which leaves us scratching our heads. Was LaBute looking for a quickie cash-in in between theater projects? Why didn't he make a good one? Surely he's capable of such a thing, right?

Photo: Courtesy of Sony