Chronicle is a science-fiction film about a group of friends who suddenly gain superhuman abilities and use them for personal gain. Not only is this a completely new twist in the bland superhero genre but it also provides a look into the feelings and emotions experienced by new superheroes who have no idea what to do with their powers.
Cleverly directed by newcomer Josh Trank, and convincingly played by a cast of unknowns, Chronicle works primarily because it is presented through the ‘found footage’ technique, famously used in films like The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield. Chronicle mostly uses HD camera footage shot by one of its principle characters, though it also spices things up by using action footage captured by bystanders. Thanks to stylish editing, and breathtaking cinematography, the film is a rollercoaster ride and provides some really exciting visuals.
And while the realism lends the action sequences an extra thrill, it provides the dark narrative with an extra chill. The movie starts with Andrew (Dane DeHaan), an unpopular high school teenager. Burdened by a dying mother, an abusive alcoholic father and bullies in high school, he copes by filming his daily life.
After Andrew’s cousin Matt (Alex Russell), and friend Steve (Michael B Jordan), take Andrew to film a mysterious hole which is emitting some sort of energy, the three teenagers gain amazing telekinetic powers. However, they soon realise that overusing their newfound abilities leads them to suffer from nosebleeds, headaches, and loss of judgment.
At first the trio use their powers to play pranks, but Andrew quickly becomes the most powerful of the three and he relies too much on his powers, losing control and creating havoc.
Some of the ‘found footage” in Chronicle, comes across as a touch too convenient, making things seem a bit contrived. Having said that, this thrilling film has been quite skilfully made and really makes the viewer believe that flying is as easy as jumping.
Published in The Express Tribune, Sunday Magazine, February 12th, 2012.