Delivering American University's news and views since 1925. | Saturday, May 26, 2018

Movie Review: Chronicle

Grade: B

After watching “Chronicle,” you’ll understand the downside of super powers.

Co-writers Josh Trank (who also directed it) and Max Landis make their feature-film debut with “Chronicle,” which documents the lives of three high school seniors who develop amazing powers after they make a mysterious discovery. Though the new powers come as a blessing, the boys soon have to battle with their dark sides.

“Chronicle” is a true roller coaster ride; its story and first person “handy-cam” style brings you along on an action-packed ride that peaks almost sporadically.

The audience follows the action through the camera bought by Andrew (Dane DeHaan, HBO’s “In Treatment”), an angst-y teen with a troubled home life who seems to only buy the camera to piss off his drunk father and “film everything” in his life.

Andrew, his cousin Matt (Alex Russell, “Wasted on the Young”) and high school superstar Steven (Michael B. Jordan, “Parenthood”) are bonded forever when they find a mysterious crater in the woods during a high school rave and Andrew is persuaded to film it.

Though the movie starts a bit awkwardly, it quickly picks up momentum as action and fame envelop the boys’ lives and their powers mature.

As the film continues, it keeps you on the edge of your seat wondering when the inevitable “worse” will happen.

The film’s mixture of comedy and suspense ties together well in the end, but the highs and lows can feel a bit uneasy at the time. 

Surprisingly, the origin of the boys’ powers is never really explored, while the relationships, amusement and madness that their powers create become the focus of the film.

“Chronicle” is edited similarly to the “found footage” style made famous by “The Blair Witch Project (1999), the “Paranormal Activity” trilogy (2007) and “Cloverfield” (2008).

However, unlike “Cloverfield,” the shots are filmed well and don’t induce motion sickness. “Chronicle” is also unique because the story seems to be taking place in the present with no indication that the footage is ever “found.” In fact, the camera seems to take on a role of its own to bring insight into the characters as the film bounces around between cameras taping the event.

The setting is used in the film to convey a sense of proximity and danger. Beginning in an unknown small town in the mountains, which, just like the boys, seems separated and harmless, “Chronicle” gradually moves closer to civilization as the boys’ abilities become more powerful and danger rises.

The motif of philosophy and power also remains a key piece throughout the film, which foreshadows the climax scene in the end.

“Chronicle” is a stunning supernatural thriller that lacks a back-story in a good way. The often disappointing exploration of the origin story is thrown aside to make way for the imagination, giving the audience enough to talk about on the ride home.

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