John Schlesinger’s Pacific Heights is a wonderfully composed psychological thriller from 1990. It’s the type of film which was hugely popular in the 1990s, but has fallen by the wayside in recent years. It’s a great companion piece to the 1992 release, Unlawful Entry starring Kurt Russell.
Matthew Modine and Melanie Griffith are Drake and Patty, a young couple who buy an expensive house in the Pacific Heights neighbourhood of San Francisco. They get more than they bargained for when they take-on a tenant in the shape of Michael Keaton’s Carter Hayes.
Pacific Heights has shades of Hitchcock, from the San Francisco location (Vertigo) to the casting of Melanie Griffith who is the daughter of The Birds star Tippi Hedren (who also makes an appearance). Schlesinger also ‘pulls a Hitch’ but appearing in a cameo.
The lynchpin in Pacific Heights is Michael Keaton’s villainous turn as the mysterious Carter Hayes. He’s great as the twisted tenant and you can see him embracing the darkness of the character. It’s a role which is the perfect antidote to the super-heroics he played in Batman, which was released the previous year.