James and Amy are a common couple who live at 388 Arletta Avenue. Out of the blue, a mysterious stalker sneaks in their home and bugs it with microphones and cameras positioned in order to cover the whole house. When Amy vanishes and leaves a handwritten letter to James, he suspects that someone has broken in his home. He calls the police, but the police officer does not give credit to him. Weird things happen in the house and James becomes paranoid without realizing that his movements are seen by the stalker. His obsession to discover what might have happened to Amy leads the family to a tragic end.Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Just when you thought the first person perspective, found/edited footage films can no longer reinvent itself, having possibly adapted itself to all kinds of film genres suitable for the medium, writer-director Randall Cole throws in one more into the hat, and quite brilliantly it's got to do with home invasion, being acutely that of privacy, which will irk even the most liberal amongst us, feeling icky that someone else has total coverage over everything about our lives, obviously without authorization. But its smartness stretched out its luck a little too far, and what began as an interesting premise soon gave way to implausibilities that tanked the entire story.
The cast list is pretty impressive though, centering around the couple James and Amy, played by Nick Stahl and Mia Kirshner respectively. But what we learn of their lives come courtesy of a stalker who voyeurs into their titular house, from a car inconspicuously parked on an opposite road. Armed with a recorder equipped with zoom lens and a directional microphone, we get to see, and hear, the couple's every move, and gain knowledge about their state of affairs and backgrounds.
Yes, the filmmaker has put us into the shoes of the perpetrator, and honestly it gets quite addictive as we listen in through more cameras and more microphones, no thanks to the perp gaining entry into their home, and mounting more hidden cameras, which extended to places like their car, and office computer. That's when things got stretched a little too far, as the film started to believe in its own arrogance, that it failed to work within its own constraints set up by the premise, and had to have you accept its brand of logic, making it from a premise that's possible and real (and therefore identifiable), to film fantasy.
The plot quickens after a while of static camera shifting, and this happens very frequently due to different cameras mounted at various vantage points around the house, that made the presentation one big channel surf by an attention deficit disorder sufferer. And this betrays the wafer thin plot about how Amy goes missing, and James being the wreck when he cannot locate his wife, relying on one of his suspects, Bill (Devon Sawa), to help get down to the bottom of things, and with Amy's sister Katherine (Krista Bridges) breathing down James' neck, suggesting that he has something to do with Amy's disappearance.
The brilliance came only in the last ten minutes, offering a reveal that we'd already know of, and making us aware of the shoes we've been stepping into the entire time. It offers an ending that's open to more follow up films, but unless the story takes precedence, this is going to languish in gimmicky territory despite a brilliant start. It's a gem of a genre waiting to be polished further, which is a pity it wasn't done so in time for this feature film to make its necessary impact.
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