In the last decade plus, we have been saturated with superhero comic book fan movies as well as hand-held Blair Witch-esque mockumentary films. So when the trailer hit for Chronicle, I had no option but to roll my eyes, as it was the two combined together in what looked like an amateur, effects-only film. Well, I am not afraid to admit when I am wrong, and boy was I wrong about Chronicle.
Chroncile follows the story of Andrew, a bullied high school kid who uses a film camera as a means of escape from his abusive alcoholic father, and the slow death of his beloved mother. When he and his cousin Matt, along with their friend Steve stumble upon a mysterious tunnel with radioactive material, they soon are able to move things through telekinesis. However, as Andrew's life gets more complicated, with his mom getting worse, he soon begins to use his ever growing strength to try to save his mother's life, and eventually, in a fit of rage, his powers simply become too much.
Chronicle is highly original, and never overplays either of its combining elements. It is actually refreshing to see how especially the mockumentary style, can be used effectively. More importantly, unlike so many superhero origin stories, this is not a happy story, this does necessarily beg the need for an incessant sequel, and simply tells the story of power in the hands of someone with anger can lead to disastrous consequences. Furthermore unlike so many visual-effects driven film, the effects in this film are actually pretty basic, and never cloud the emotion and fear of the story itself.
And it is truly the story that makes it work, along with the talent of its three young stars, who will hopefully see their stocks rise after people see this film. Beyond the idea of cool powers, this is truly a story of a kid reacting to his environment, and the relationships that develop between friends and family during trying times. Each of the actors embraces his or her character, and exudes passion, humor, and layers of emotion that many actors who have much more experience have yet to accomplish.
Chronicle is not a perfect film, and at its core it heavily borrows from other origin films, as well as films such as Carrie that deal with teenage revenge. But as our world becomes ever more saturated with Paranormal Activities and the like, it is nice to see a film that is simple, emotional, and utilizes technology subtly and effectively.
Grade - B+