We all loved the Nic Cage freakout fiesta that was The Wicker Man, but the sheer artistic/commercial failure of the movie drove director Neil LaBute into the for-hire wilderness. Whether this was deserved or not (who knew audiences would reject the gratuitous dropkicking of Leelee Sobieski?), it’s never a good thing when one of our more interesting filmmakers is forced to compromise. Some artists respond by phoning it in for a paycheck, while others find ways to smuggle subversive ideas into otherwise innocuous material. It’s impossible to say whether LaBute has done the latter with Lakeview Terrace by watching the just-released trailer, but, at the very least, it does appear that he’s put together a visually interesting picture* – which, truth be told, is new for LaBute.

Lakeview Terrace stars Patrick Wilson and Kerry Washington as a young married couple who move into their first house and immediately incur the wrath of their new neighbor (Samuel L. Jackson) because… conflict = drama. Wilson resents Jackson’s dark sense of humor and predilection for flood lights, while Jackson takes issue with the couple’s open air sexual practices (they like gettin’ it on in the pool, where Jackson’s young kids can see everything). These misunderstandings quickly escalate to full-blown hatreds, and soon the neighbors are seeking legal council – which is problematic for Wilson and Washington, as Jackson is a cop.

Lakeview Terrace is produced by Will Smith’s and James Lassiter’s Overbrook Entertainment, and is currently scheduled for release on September 19th. Here’s hoping for a not entirely bee-free entertainment from Mr. LaBute.

*If using last summer’s Southern California wildfires as a backdrop counts as “visually interesting”.