Chronicle is a fresh and entertaining take on the whole “found footage” genre. It’s not a horror movie at all, it’s more of a superhero morality play. It’s also grounded in the reality of its subjects and teen angst. Unlike the overrated Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield, the whole “shaky cam” bit is kept to a minimum, while the special effects are seamless and extremely effective. Chronicle also benefits from some nice acting from its mostly unknown cast and a lean running time that never overstays its welcome. Movie critics (who clearly don’t watch much TV) are missing out on the debt Chronicle owes to Heroes and the darker, sexier UK series Misfits. Ordinary people getting superpowers and how they handle this great power and responsibility. It goes without saying that most teens do not have the moral compass and upbringing that a Clark Kent had in idyllic Smallville, so not everyone would choose to do noble things with God-like powers.
Chronicle starts fast and loose and introduces us to a trio of teens who discover some kind of meteor in a cave that gives them superpowers. The teens start using their powers for pranks and everything is recorded by Andrew (well-played by Dane DeHaan), a withdrawn possibly mentally disturbed teenager who endures daily beatings from his drunken father while trying to also tend to his dying mother. Alex is his good-looking cousin while Steven is the school hero and jock. The three become fast friends and the tone suddenly goes dark in the second half of the film as Andrew struggles to control his temper. There’s a massive action scene at the end of the movie that looks far more expensive than the reported 15 million dollar budget will allow and the film is far darker and unsettling than the trailers and previews would leave viewers to believe. Chronicle marks the directing debut of a 26 year old named Josh Trank. I’m sure he’ll be getting offers from every major studio after Chronicle hits the ground running. Chronicle is the first mainstream release of 2012 so far that is worth seeing and comes highly recommended.