The story begins when outcast teenager Andrew purchases a video camera and decides to document his troubled life. He has an abusive drunken father and a terminally ill mother. While attending a school party, Andrew, his cousin Matt, and a popular high school student named Steve make an incredible discovery of a strange glowing ‘thing’ buried in a cave in the ground. After coming into contact with it, they quickly develop superhuman abilities, including telekinesis and the power of flight. However, with great power comes great mischief and soon they find their lives spinning out of control and their friendship tested as they embrace their darker sides.
The story is driven in a darker direction by the tortured Andrew whose rise and fall is simultaneously heartbreaking and terrifying. His two friends, who initially have comparable abilities, soon find Andrew growing disturbingly stronger than both of them with devastating consequences.
Chronicle, is the feature film debut of promising director Josh Trank and is written by his high school friend Max Landis, son of legendary director John Landis. Don’t be put off on hearing that this is another found footage style movie involving teenagers with superpowers. Despite the current film scene being saturated in these, Chronicle is that rare film that takes the superhero genre and turns it on its head, delivering something that is energetic, fresh, initiative and original. Yes, the film is shot in a similar way that we have seen before in Cloverfield, Paranormal Activity and The Blair Witch Project, and yes films involving superhuman abilities such as ‘X-Men’ is not new, but ‘Chronicle’ really stands out from the crowd.
Drawing many parallels with Stephen King’s horror classic Carrie, which placed telekinetic powers in the hands of a repressed, vulnerable school girl, Chronicle gives these to three teenage boys who proceed to behave exactly as teenagers with such abilities would. But didn’t these kids see Spider-Man? or ever read a comic book before? Don’t they know that, “With great power, comes great responsibility?”
It was nice to see teenagers with superpowers do what exactly what teenagers would actually do. No spandex suits or community service here, as it’s more like “with great power comes great mischief and petty retribution”.
By using three relatively unknown actors (Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell and Michael B. Jordan) as the leads, Chronicle allows us to concentrate on the story and the writing instead of being distracted by any big name actors. However, all three actors deserve credit for really bringing the characters to life especially Dane DeHaan brilliant performance as Andrew. The impressive visual effects on a low budget of just $12 million prove that invigorating, innovative and playful filmmaking counts for everything.
Not only does Chronicle succeed in giving the superhero-origin movie the found footage treatment, but it also manages to be refreshingly original and initiative whilst also being spectacularly visceral throughout. Coming in at just over 80 minutes long, there is not a moment wasted in this film that goes deeper than the average comic book adaptation. Chronicle has also marked the arrival of debut director Josh Trank who is sure to one to look out for in the future. This is a stunning science fiction drama that has appeared out of nowhere and demands your immediate attention.