388 Arletta Avenue doesn't live up to the slick art-house flick it wants to be
Starring Nick Stahl, Devon Sawa, and Mia Kirshner. Rated PG.
388 Arletta Avenue isn’t incompetent or bad, really. It’s just hard to say nice things about it.
That could be because Randall Cole’s third feature resembles an A-plus thesis film more than it does either a superior art-house effort or a slick commercial production. Or maybe the hand-held digital camera and CCTV spy-eye shticks have both finally outlived their herky-jerky, eye-achy usefulness. Or maybe this hybrid creation simply mixes and matches too many subgenres for its own narrative good (everything from the disappearing-spouse drama to the psychological horror movie is combined here).
Whatever the reason—for me, at least—388 Arletta Avenue is the cinematic equivalent of English satirist Tom Brown’s seemingly blameless, but still unlikable, poetic villain, Dr. Fell.
Just about everything we see on-screen is viewed through the electronically enhanced lenses of a high-tech stalker. For reasons unknown, James (Nick Stahl), a thirtyish advertising executive, and Amy (Mia Kirshner), his graduate-student wife, attract unwanted attention outside of their nondescript Toronto home. After a minor tiff, Amy disappears and weird things start to happen to all of James’s electronic gizmos, both at home and at work.
At first, the police consider his worries unfounded, then, as the psychological warfare heats up, they start regarding him as a possible murder suspect. Trying to make sense out of what’s going on, this husband makes contact with an Afghan War vet (Vancouver’s Devon Sawa) who he used to bully at school. There are actually quite a few possible nutters in 388 Arletta Avenue, although none are particularly engaging (the flat dialogue doesn’t help).
I guess if you haven’t seen a thriller in a very long time, this film could conceivably grab your intellectual lapels. Otherwise, you’ll probably find it pretty ho-hum.
Watch the trailer for 388 Arletta Avenue.