The 1.85:1 1080p picture feels slightly wasted given the content. Everything is shot from a camcorder or hidden camera type device, and the director has attempted to make this feel authentic. The result is a wayward mish-mash of qualitative material. Some shots look decent enough to hold their own against most modern movies, but others (and intentionally I might add) present a huge amount of lens distortion, and often a good percentage of the screen is occluded by objects in the foreground.
Skin tones are difficult to judge accurately as they are so varied. Sometimes they seem bright and washed out, other times completely saturated. Whatever form they take throughout the course of the movie though, it seems to fit with the style, and don't jar. Contrast is, again, varied. Sometimes being extremely heavy, resulting in a loss of depth to the image, and other times it's relatively tame. Quite often with the picture in 388 Arletta Avenue, you find yourslef looking at an image that's riddled with horizontal banding. Obviously laid on in post.
The colour grading is varied throughout, and changes across the many hidden cameras. Noise is a little heavy during night scenes, and there is noticeable haloing around street-lamps. Blacks are slightly on the crushed side, and shadow detail is not brilliant. Object detail is, again, varied, sometimes looking good, other times lacking in sharpness. Skin tones are occasionally drab looking, but nothing here makes me feel cheated. It's a movie shot on handheld camcorders, and that's exactly what you get.
Again, a slightly under-achieving DTS-HD MA 5.1 track. Not a great deal to shout about. The dynamic range is good and well utilized, unlike the surround channels. Though having said that, I guess for believability purposes, we can forgive the largely frontal array audio presentation given the premise of the movie and the setting of the in-situ cameras. Not many camcorders come with surround sound microphones built in, not to mention ones that you can fit inside a bedside alarm clock.
General ambience effects are pretty good. Floorboards creak with pristine clarity and definition that, perhaps it could be argued, slightly removes another element of believability for the audience, given the hidden camera style. The general audio ambience and foley is perhaps slightly too good, but this point is hardly a slurring on the sound as the effects reflect poorly on the directors intentions to make the movie believable, more than it reflects badly on the audio presentation.
Dialogue is not close mic'd and sometimes the ambient reverberations of the room can muddle the sound slightly, but for the most part it's clear and crisp. Generally speaking, the audio presentation has been treated with some care. It's well rounded and authentic, though slightly lack-lustre, and doesn't really warrant the surround uncompressed audio track. In fact, I might even push the boat out and suggest that some clipping or mic distortion might have lent the movie a sixth sense of authenticity. Perhaps a step too far though.
Making Of – 30 minute featurette with interviews with the cast and crew, including Nick Stahl and Director Randall Cole. Pretty basic publicity stuff, but there's quite a bit of Randall Cole talking about his vision for the movie. Personally, I found it more frustrating to listen to than informative, given that my opinion of the movie had been made based on what's presented, rather than what was intended.
388 Arletta Avenue is yet another docu-style hyper realistic fly-on-the-wall thriller, but it in no way tries to add that kick of chilli to the genre. Painfully unoriginal and lacking any willingness to attempt anything different, 388 Arletta Avenue is quite a bore. If it's a thriller you're after, you'll be no better off with 388 Arletta Avenue than if you went with any of the other many titles in the genre, in fact, you'd be worse off in some cases. Strenuous to watch at times, it requires quite a forgiving audience to fully appreciate it, but for those who love to lap up the fly-on-the-wall hyper realistic thriller, there's something to be gotten out of it, even if it is completely forgettable.
As a package, the Blu-ray is a little on the light side, with a solitary 30 minute “Making Of” featurette as the only extra on the disc. Picture is as you would expect from a hidden camera movie, slightly grainy and not quite a showpiece for high definition, though it's not bad. Audio suffers from the same scenario as picture, and is nowhere near a benchmark presentation for the format. A poor and unoriginal movie, that leaves you asking more questions than it bothers to answer, best avoided unless you're into, you know - bad movies.
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