With found footage films are popping up left and right, many are fighting to find an original take that will reinvent the subgenre for horror fans. Randall Cole’s 388 Arletta Avenue , produced by Cube and Splice director Vincenzo Natali, finds that unique spin, but ultimately is trapped by the limitations that come with that.
The home invasion thriller begins with a serious of odd events created by the stalker. James (Nick Stahl) is freaked out when a random mix CD ends up in his car. His girlfriend Amy (Mia Kirshner) doesn’t quite believe him, leading to some tension in the relationship. The stalker eventually kidnaps Amy that leads to a serious of games with the killer who is slowly letting James destroy his own life.
What’s most disappointing about Arletta is that the viewer never has a chance to experience any true suspense. Every single sequence/encounter is so overtly predictable that it becomes tedious. Everything that happens is painfully obvious, and Cole, who also penned the screenplay, doesn’t even attempt to trick the audience. To call the thriller bland is an understatement; I think a better term would be “monotonous,” a word synonymous with lazy in Hollywood.
Even more frustrating is James’ attitude and personal history. He seems overly privileged, arrogant and unappreciative of his relationship with Amy. His run in with high school classmate Bill (Devon Sawa) only makes the viewer hate James more as he continues the bullying that he started years prior. Ultimately, the viewer will wish for James’ head on a silver platter.
But the film’s worst offense is it’s unimaginative finale that couldn’t have been more cliché – and to make matters worse, Cole opts to include an epilogue that’s so obvious it’s impossible not to scoff aloud.
With elements of films like The Strangers and Pacific Heights, there’s good stuff hiding at 388 Arletta Ave that’s never quite realized. It’s a bland thriller with zero tension and completely wasted potential. I’d foreclose on this film.