It’s exciting to see Shyamalan on such confident footing once more, all these years later.
"Pacific Heights" is a horror film for yuppies, in which the bad guy uses the ax to attack your three-flat, not you. It tells the story of a young couple who buy a Victorian home in San Francisco and are then attacked by the tenant from hell - a sinister man who moves in without authorization, never pays the rent, uses a jigsaw in the middle of the night, and breeds roaches, which he dispatches on journeys to other parts of the building.
His strategy is to drive the couple into foreclosure and then pick up the property cheap, although exactly what financial steps this would entail is never explained. Maybe he's not so sure himself.
Basically, he's a psycho who has been disowned by his family and gets his sick thrills by breaking up other happy households. And, as played with a certain effectiveness by Michael Keaton, he has that smarmy, ingratiating quality of the kind of guy whose smile makes your skin crawl.
The couple is played by Melanie Griffith and Matthew Modine, who fudge on their financial statement to buy the house, and then need every month's check from the two rental flats in order to keep up the payments. That's why it's so desperately important to them to evict Keaton and get possession of the flat. Besides, what's he doing in there? He's moved in some kind of slack-jawed roommate, and the two of them hammer and saw all night long, until the nice Japanese-American couple in the rear flat are forced to move out (the tidal waves of cockroaches are another reason for leaving).