Friday, January 24, 2014
388 Arletta Avenue
A mysterious weirdo stalks a man and his wife (Nick Stahl and Mia Kirshner), video taping them from outside there home and eventually installing cameras in their house. He begins messing with the couple in various ways, trying to make them lose their shit. In a nice twist on the "found footage" subgenre, the whole film is from the perspective of the stalker's cameras.
388 Arletta Avenue is a straightforward but solid thriller that takes an overused gimmick and squeezes a little extra juice from it. Although the filmmakers don't use the "found footage" style to stage any interesting one-take suspense scenes like some of us keep suggesting (in fact, there's not a lot of classic "thrills" in this mostly dialogue driven film), it does use it to build a nice, creepy sense of voyeurism and paranoia.
The biggest problem the film has is its story structure. It's kind of like a more mainstream version of Michael Haneke's Cache, where the threat of being watched causes a seemingly normal guy to reevaluate his past and become paranoid about something he did before. But here they blow the story arc a bit. The stalker does something pretty major early on that I won't spoil, but instead of kicking the movie into high gear it settles back again and goes for a slow burn. The result is a long stretch in the middle that feels pretty slow; knowing that this stalker is the real deal just means you grow impatient waiting for him to do something really bad again.
They tried something a little different here, and though far from perfect (it stretches credibility a lot and the obvious ending lands with a thud) it was a worthy attempt and a worthwhile experience.