If you could fly, move things with your mind, withstand minor injuries…how would you use it? Would you stay true to yourself and be righteous? Would you go into business for yourself and do all the things you’ve always wanted? In Chronicle, three teens suddenly find themselves with these abilities and we get to find out just what they can do.
Chronicle is a sci-fi, action, teen drama, superhero film of the found footage variety. Really, the movie touches on all those points. Andrew is a shy, high school senior suffering at home from abuse at the hands of his drunk father. He’s grown tired of his father’s mistreatment so he decides to start filming everything. The movie starts out being shot on a large, old camera. It does the job, but must have been a bitch to carry around. Andrew’s cousin Matt is seemingly his only friend, but even he doesn’t like being around him sometimes. Andrew and Matt head to a rave where they hook up with charming and popular Steve. The three wander off from the party and find a very weird, very creepy hole in the ground. Steve and Matt talk Andrew into using the light on his camera into lighting their path down the rabbit hole where they find…a thing. It’s never revealed what exactly it is they find, but it’s crystalline and alien in nature. The artifact seems to freak out and we have no idea what happens. Cut to a few weeks later, we have a brand new HD camera to watch everything on, and our protagonists now have super powers. The movie, as I always say, takes off from there.
I really liked Chronicle. There’s something about the movie that’s just really charming. It’s well scripted, well acted, just well done in general. The whole ‘found footage’ genre of movies is starting to get stale; when you see trailers for these types of movies you just have that inward groan of, ‘not this again.’ But Chronicle does it just a tad differently. For one, the camera isn’t shaky. Sure there are times where you get those camera-man-is-trying-to-stand-up shots, and you get plenty of oddly framed and zoomed shots, but the camera is never nausea inducing. The other thing that Chronicle does interestingly is get around the fact that someone always needs to be holding the camera. There are plenty of shots in this movie from an omniscient point of view, capturing all the action, all the characters. Within the story, since the main characters develop a strong sense of telekinesis, they are able to float the camera around them instead of always having to have one of them behind the lens. This leads to very interesting aerial, acrobatic shots. The filmmakers also use footage from any camera near the characters. This includes traffic cameras, security cameras, cell phones shot by background characters, anything in the area, basically (this only really comes into play during the film’s climactic finale).
The movie is structured predictably, but still handled well. As Andrew starts to spiral into himself and let’s his darker urges take over, the film really begins to pick up. The last third of the movie is rife with action and brutality. The climax of the film, a Dragonball Z/Akira like battle of epic proportions is extremely well done. I found myself very into it, watching each physical and mental hit with gusto. Chronicle combines multiple genres to create itself and that’s thanks to screenwriter Max Landis. He’s crafted believable teens and an enthralling story.
While the found footage genre of movies is already played out, director Josh Trank has infused it with new life. Innovative techniques and loophole have let Trank make a found footage movie that really stands out. Trank and Landis are talents to watch as they’ve produced something pretty great in Chronicle: a genre bending film with plenty of action, believable dialog, and a truly entertaining story.