Director : Randall Cole
Starring :Nick Stahl, Mia Kirshner, Devon Sawa . Canada. 1h 26m.
The found footage Canadian thriller stars Nick Stahl and Mia Kirshner as an unhappily married couple whose lives are turned upside down after they are tracked and eventually infiltrated by an unknown stalker. The film has a low key release and is fairly average in most aspects.
An unknown shady character watches James and Amy Deakin; a young couple as they hide a spare key outside their home and head out jogging. He uses the key to enter the home and set up a series of surveillance cameras and makes several minor changes to their stuff, setting alarm clocks earlier and adding music to their players. These minor irritations along with the arguing leads to some major conflicts between the couple and as the cracks grow. After one argument Amy disappears, James is unsure if she’s with a friend but not wanting to raise the alarm he also wants to search for his beloved. He makes a few inquires with her friends, trying not to stir up any questions, and eventually he confides in his friend Alex who suggests that a childhood acquaintance, Bill, might be involved, James tries to make amends with his old chun as he used to bully him at school.
While James is sleuthing he is concerned that his cat has been replaced, he receives taunting emails and finds a video of Amy bound and gagged which spurs him into purchasing a gun and then the cat and mouse battle begins as he levels up and shit gets real.
For the most part this film is quite engaging, but as it’s lots of surveillance footage, it does drift off from time to time but the rolling narrative is still dark and spirited. There’s a macabre fascination in watching other people secretly and the audience is forced to do so throughout this film. The early stages it’s not really apparent what is going on, the problems that James and Amy are going through are so trivial it feels like it’s a practical joke. Then things get incredibly sinister. Amy’s disappearance sparks James off in so many directions, fear, anger and confusion soon have him running circles around himself. This silent stalker is always one step ahead and seems intent on breaking James down to his core.
Nick Stahl is a brilliant actor and handles the action and fear quite well. It’s almost a one man show once his chick is out of the way it’s all down to Nick to investigate and solve this riddle.
Like the Collector (2009) the stalker is quite the macgyver and has cameras set up everywhere within seconds and thinks of EVERYTHING in advance, I’d have liked to seen some progression within the character to see him have to make modifications, maybe a spark of intelligence or brilliance of seeing him overcome some hiccup in planning maybe. Some depth of character that would make them seem more than a spectral being.
Found footage is a genre that everyone loves to hate, sadly 388 Arletta isn’t a prime example, much like Creep (2014) this isn’t the style of story that is more gripping for being found footage, in fact it might be more thrilling to have made a traditional movie to gain more depth. The ending doesn’t justify the efforts put into the rest of film, but once James is past all of the irrelevant stuff at the beginning, he initiates some brutality which is an added bonus for the gore fans and breaks up the monotony. The story is solid and helps distract from the lack of tension which would have really beefed the film up.