388 Arletta Avenue [Blu-ray]
Blu-ray B - United Kingdom - Studio Canal
Review written by and copyright: Samuel Scott (27th November 2014).
The Film

***This is an A/V and Extras review only. For reviews on the movie from various critics, we recommend visiting HERE.***

Record. Play. Kill.

An unsettling Hitchcockian stalker thriller shot from the point of view of hidden cameras.

James (Nick Stahl - Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines) and Amy (Mia Kirshner - Exotica) are a married couple who are being secretly filmed by a mysterious stalker. Their relationship starts to crumble when the stalker uses information gleaned from the cameras to subtly manipulate the unsuspecting couple. When Amy vanishes, James is not sure whether she has been abducted or has left him. The acts of the tormentor become increasingly twisted and violent as James gets closer to the source of the terror.

Video

Studio Canal have released the thriller "388 Arletta Avenue" on to Blu-ray in the United Kingdom using the original aspect ratio of 1.85:1. The transfer is 1080p and uses and AVC MPEG-4 encode. Unfortunately, it doesn't make the most of the formats capabilities.

This is one of those movies where it can be quite difficult to judge certain aspects. If you've ever seen the "Paranormal Activity" movies where the entire feature is shot through camcorder footage by different characters, then you'll know what to expect here, where all footage is filmed by the stalker, or through various hidden cameras. With this, comes a particular quality of footage that is made to look as though it isn't being professionally filmed. During darker scenes, there is some quite heavy noise at times, and the deeper blacks do have a tendency to crush more than expected. Details also suffer from a lack of clarity during many scenes, though can look very good when we are viewing lighter shots filmed by the stalker with his handheld camera, rather than the hidden camera. On occasion, there's some faux damage to the transfer, to give it a certain look, such as added grain, banding and picture distortion. These aren't really a cause for concern, as it is part of the film, rather than a production issue.

The film is uncut and runs 86:15.

Audio

Two options are available:
- English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1
- English LPCM 2.0 Stereo

For my viewing, I opted to watch the movie using the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, which suffers from the same limitations as the transfer. Because the film is shot through the point of view of hidden cameras, we hear the action as we would from a basic camcorder set-up, with the majority of the action located at the front of the sound field. At times though, we do get some brief elevated activity due to going to the views of different cameras during the action. The most punchy moment in the track has to be at either 27:25, where the heavy bass of the music makes full use of the LFE, or at 69:31 with the footsteps and the sound of the car being pounded on takes over the rears. There are times where the surrounds are used for more subtle environmental effects too, such as at 59:27 with the sounds of the car travelling along tarmac, across an access grate, and then onto a more gravel type road - though these moments are few and far between. Dialogue is clear at all times, but volume levels from camera to camera can vary too much, with some shots much louder than the rest of the film. There are no major issues such as drop outs or scratches to worry about.

No subtitles have been included.

Extras

The sole extra here is a featurette entitled "The Making of 388 Arletta Avenue", clocking in at 29:44. This is quite a typical making of, but with the interviews a bit more in-depth than what has become the normality for this type of film. The main interviewees are director Randall Cole, and cast members Nick Stahl, Mia Kirshner, and Devon Sawa. It isn't a backslapping affair, with focus in the first half being on the characters, and the story in general, whilst the second half moves into talking about the technical details with reasonable depth. Worth watching for those who enjoyed the movie.

Overall

Filmed in a found footage style, this stalker thriller actually has a number of interesting elements, and Nick Stahl's quick descent as he tries to figure things out was quite good to watch. It's for from great, but it isn't rubbish either.

The Film: C Video: C Audio: C+ Extras: D+ Overall: C

 


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