A couple work hard to renovate their dream house and become landlords to pay for it. Unfortunately one of their tenants has plans of his own
Doing for homeowners-considering-lodgers what Fatal Attraction did for married men-considering-affairs, Pacific Heights is quality thriller fare, resurrecting the career of John Schlesinger while supplying yet another useful addition to the CV of Keaton, Griffith and the fast up-and-coming Modine.
Melanie Griffith - in her first role since Working Girl - and Matthew Modine are Patty and Drake, the couple forced to rent the two downstairs rooms of their San Francisco dream house to pay the mortgage, letting one to a Japanese couple, and the other to mysterious businessman Carter Hayes (Michael Keaton).
Patty's initial reservations when Hayes suddenly appears from nowhere and manages to take possession of the apartment without paying a deposit are soon confirmed when this mysterious lodger begins drilling and banging about in the apartment at 2am, soon followed by an outbreak of cockroaches coming from his apartment that causes the other residents to leave. The fact that Patty and Drake don't just turf him out may seem absurd, but California law is on the side of the tenant and all of Drake's attempts to evict the pest thus end up in abject failure.
The ever-impressive Keaton walks away with every scene he's in as the calculating sociopath and arch-manipulator, taking on assumed identities to swindle rich women, one of whom, in a nice touch, is played by Griffith's real-life mother, Tippi Hedren. It is Griffith herself, however, who shines throughout as the woman forced to fight back before she loses her home and her sanity.
Schlesinger, using slick camera angles and direction that bear a striking similarity to those of the old master himself, manages to pile on that tension in spades.