johnlink ranks 388 ARLETTA AVENUE (2011)

I’ve always been a Blackberry guy. But, sadly, my phone was introduced to some chemicals a month or so ago and I’ve been living with a 2004 Razor ever since. Last night, I got the upgrade to an iPhone. One of the first things I did was to load up the Amazon Prime Instant Video ap. While I don’t think I’d go and watch LAST OF THE MOHICANS on that little screen, it is perfectly suitable for a late night horror flick or a talk-heavy comedy or drama. I went with a found-footage flick starring the troubled Nick Stahl.


I watched 388 ARLETTA AVENUE (2011) on 12.27.12. It was my first viewing of the film.

The found-footage horror movie has, quite possibly, jumped the shark. It is prevalent enough to be considered the modern horror genre, with the popularity of torture-porn style films waning slightly since the finale of SAW. Perhaps all you need to know is that the Wayans are doing a spoof film centered entirely around poking fun at the found-footage horror film.

388 ARLETTA AVENUE tries to come in with a slightly different concept. The footage is all owned by a disturbed person who is stalking a young couple (Stahl and Mia Kirshner) who reside at the titular address. The entire film is told through hidden cameras in their home, their car, their workplace. An occasional shot comes from a handheld used by the stalker themselves.

What we get then, is a movie which plays out, in terms of performance, much the way a typical movie would. The subjects of the film don’t know they are being watched. They aren’t performing for the camera the way the actors sometimes do in PARANORMAL ACTIVITY. Instead, this is all supposed to be very voyeuristic. The film goes out of its way to separate this instance of voyeurism from a sexual activity. There are no shots of people showering, or having sex, or undressing. I was sure this was coming, and it never went there. I hate to have to give it credit for that, but, alas, that is sort of the state of the genre.

After the film was over I watched the trailer to see how much of this they ruin. They reveal the first act twist (typical of trailers, which is why I don’t watch them) and much of the action-centered footage they show is from the film’s last ten minutes. So don’t watch the trailer. I felt like I should after seeing the movie because not much happens in this thing, and I felt like this would be a film which would be ruined by the trailer. It wasn’t as bad as I thought. But still, don’t watch the trailer.

The first act twist happens a little too soon. It leaves Stahl to wander around aimlessly and mangle any sort of investigation. His character, James, has a bit of a mean streak which leads him to have distrust of practically everyone around him. While this is nearly a case of a protagonist being too unlikable, Stahl walks the line surprisingly well. He makes mistakes, sure, but much of the film’s weakness falls on the inability of the writing to truncate the timeline. What we see on screen isn’t all that terrible. The amount of time that passes, and how little he does, is laughable.

Despite all this, I felt a real visceral tension in the last ten minutes. I’m not saying this is a spectacular film, but it gets the job done. While I’m not a huge fan of the ‘explanation’ (as it were), I still finished this movie wondering if my front door was locked.

Sometimes a sub-90 minute movie feels too long. This is an example of that phenomenon. Regardless, it gets the job done even if it takes an extra fifteen minutes than it needs to. It’s too bad that there isn’t a serial like TWILIGHT ZONE or TALES FROM THE CRYPT anymore. This could have been trimmed down to a nice 48 minutes.



This should probably be incorporated into the FILM and WRITING scores, except the movie doesn’t get to the level of intensity it should until the final fifteen minutes. But they are a solid final fifteen minutes. A third act worthy of a bonus point.



~ by johnlink00 on December 28, 2012.

One Response to “johnlink ranks 388 ARLETTA AVENUE (2011)”

  1. Nice write up buddy. Didn’t recognise the name, but I swear I have seen the DVD cover with Stahls name on it somewhere……

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: