First-person/found-footage/point-of-view (POV) style movies don’t bother me as much as they do some horror fans. Sure, not all of them are good, but I don’t avoid a horror movie if I see that it is POV.
Last year when I learned of 388 Arletta Avenue, all I knew of the movie was that it was a horror movie with Devon Sawa and Nick Stahl–two actors I really like. I was also intrigued because, despite it being out for a few years, I hadn’t heard of it. After doing some (non-spoiler) research online, I was surprised to see many favorable reviews of it.
The film is depicted entirely from the first-person POV as the antagonist, a face-less peeing tom whom the audience never does see, terrorizes a young couple. The adversary has a clear advantage as he has meticulously planted dozens of secret cameras at the James and Amy’s house, car, and even James’ workplace.
At first, the terrorism is playful, however the torment quickly escalates when James come home to find their cat missing yet replaced by another similar cat. James calls police where they pretty much shrug off his concerns, suggesting he’s confused or just messing around with them. Soon after the exchange with the police, Amy goes missing.
From this point on, James essentially unwinds on screen, searching for whoever is manipulating him and trying to find Amy. His behavior at work becomes manic and suspect, and coworkers notice that something is clearly wrong with him. I will end my plot synopsis here to avoid spoilers, but will note that I did enjoy the ending and overall, I would recommend this movie to horror fans who can tolerate POV/first-person films.
While I did enjoy 388 Arletta Avenue, I don’t know that it offered anything new to this type of horror sub-genre. The ending managed to be both “surprising” and predictable. I won’t spoil it here but if you’ve seen it, you will get what I’m saying. Despite this criticism, I do recommend the movie. It drew me in and held my attention.
The acting was also stellar. There were very few characters in the film to begin with and after Amy goes missing midway though the film, Stahl pretty much carries the entire movie on his own from that point on. Devon Sawa gives a commendable–albeit brief–performance on screen too.
Pros: good acting, not-so-happy ending, polished/well-executed
Cons: slow-paced, repetitive, predictable
Mashup status: Think the Paranormal Activity (2007) series –minus the supernatural elements–meets ATM (2012).