Chronicle is a found-footage superhero movie that explores what happens after a group of high school students gain amazing abilities. It starts out like a teen drama, with a shy young guy called Andrew buying a video camera to film his daily events. Through this, we are given a glimpse into his difficult home-life with his drunk, abusive father and bedridden mother. We are also shown his school-life, where he gets picked on and is often seen sitting by himself.
His cousin Matt takes him along to a party but he inevitably ends up sitting alone outside in the dark. Steve, a popular kid running for school president, finds him and asks him to bring his camera so they can investigate something strange nearby. Andrew, Matt and Steve venture down into a mysterious hole in the ground, where they discover an unexplained glowing (and possibly alien) entity. The three students soon find they have gained special powers like being able to move objects with their mind (telekinesis) and fly.
Instead of using their abilities to fight crime, like the superheroes we usually see on screen, they use them to have fun and do things high school boys like to do. They play pranks in a store by levitating toys, covertly lift girl’s skirts up with a leaf blower, and move people’s cars to different parking spaces. However, these harmless pranks start to get out of hand as they grow stronger and develop their powers.
Andrew uses his abilities at the school talent show and becomes popular with everyone for the first time. But this turns out to be only temporary, and after a run-in with his dad, he spirals out of control and starts using his powers recklessly. His loneliness and anger cause him to resent those without superpowers (who he sees as inferior), and he becomes unwilling to follow anyone else’s rules and limit the use of his powerful abilities. He is clearly very troubled emotionally, after years of being an outcast and feeling unwanted both at home and at school. This detachment and his newfound powers cause him to think that he is above everyone else (he describes himself as an “apex predator”), which ultimately leads up to a dark and explosive climax for the film.
Chronicle marks the directorial debut of Josh Trank and is the first feature length screenplay by Max Landis (son of John, director of The Blues Brothers and An American Werewolf in London). The film is a great accomplishment by these newcomers, with its intriguing premise and exploration of an effective origin story. It gives viewers a fresh take on both the found-footage film and the superhero genre, with special abilities that feel more believable than usual. It raises the question of what to do when given great power and shows why you need to use it responsibly, not misuse it.
Chronicle is released on DVD and Blu-ray on 28th May. Extra features include deleted scene, actors camera test, theatrical trailer, pre-visualisation of 2 key scenes, soundtrack info, and an extended edition.
Director: Josh Trank
Cast: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly, Ashley Hinshaw
Runtime: 85 mins