Michael Keaton stars in John Schlesinger’s quality ’90s thriller as a tenant from hell who turns the lives of nice yuppie couple Matthew Modine and Melanie Griffith into a living nightmare.
When live-in lovers Drake and Patty (Modine, Griffith) buy a sprawling Victorian house in San Francisco, to pay for renovations, they rent out its apartments to a quiet Japanese couple and a mysterious, well-off businessman named Carter Hayes (Keaton). It’s fair to say however Carter Hayes is not the ideal tenant they were hoping for. Trifling with razor blades and cultivating cockroaches, he excels in terrorizing his fellow tenants and doesn't pay the rent. Patty and Drake are desperate to turf him out, but California law is maddeningly on Haye’s side and all of the couple’s attempts to evict the pest seem doomed to end up in abject failure.
Back in 1990 Pacific Heights did for homeowners-considering-lodgers what Fatal Attraction did for married men-considering-affairs. And whilst it's a little harder today to summon up much sympathy for landlords, Keaton’s acting and Schlesinger’s assured direction certainly make for a healthy dose of classy, crackling cinematic suspense.