You know, if you ever wondered what an emo high school teenager might do if he had super powers, then look no further than Chronicle. Gee, I suppose that could be perceived either good or bad depending on how you feel about emo teenagers. Unless you are one, then maybe not so good. But don’t let that make you throw this film to the wolves just yet. Wait, didn’t I just write about wolves?
You know, if you ever wondered what an emo high school teenager might do if he had super powers, then look no further than Chronicle. Gee, I suppose that could be perceived either good or bad depending on how you feel about emo teenagers. Unless you are one, then likely not so good. But don’t let that make you throw this film to the wolves just yet. Wait, didn’t I just write about wolves?
Ok, so three high school friends make a startling discovery and the next day they find themselves with some amazing powers. But soon their lives start to spin out of control as they discover the darker sides of their natures. Ok, let’s face it, one kid just snaps like a dry twig.
This premise has a lot of promise. I mean, who wouldn’t have loved to have the power of telekinesis in high school? And Chronicle explores that possibility pretty realistically. After finding some strange object in a quarry, these three guys discover they can move small things with their minds. As they progress, and get stronger, they pull little pranks on people, move cars in parking lots and laugh when the driver is befuddled when they could swear they parked the car right there. And when they learn to fly? Well it’s teenage fantasy come true and they indulge themselves without feaar or thoughfulness.
All three of these guys are fairly proficient with these new found abilities, but one is just a little more adept, has just that much more acuity. And of course, he’s the one that’s troubled. He’s Andrew Detmer, and his mom is dying of cancer. His dad is an out of work fireman on disability, and he’s not dealing with his wife’s illness, or their shrinking finances, very well. He’s taken up drinking too much, and blaming things on his son. Andrew is the social outcast type, doesn’t go to parties, never had sex, etc. Granted, he’s a bit two-dimensional, as is his father character. The other two guys, Matt Garetty, Andrew’s cousin, and Steve Montgomery, the high school football star, are the “normal” ones. Matt Garetty is the most fleshed out and seems to be the central character even though much of the focus is on troubled Andrew. All the actors are good here and sell it competently. The character Andrew is played by Dane DeHaan, who’s been on HBO’s In Treament, and on True Blood. Most everyone in this are character actors and little knowns, which actually benefitted this film.
Despite the somewhat cookie-cutter charaters, these three guys are all different and wouldn’t likely be hanging out together – especially with Andrew. But because of their experience together and they’re shared abilities, you can totally see how they would bond. It’s that relationship that keeps you watching, and their gradual increase of power. You want to see how messed up things are gonna get, you know?
And messed up it certainly gets. Andrew has gotten beaten down too many times by school bullies, his emotionally fucked-up dad, and his mother’s illness. You know he’s a powder keg waiting to blow. And that’s ultimately what we’re waiting for in Chronicle. it’s why many people watch auto racing, hockey, or the Republican debates: the inevitable bloodshed. And I have to say, the final 15-20 minutes are pretty damn cool. The effects are great, and the final confrontation is prett much how I think any teen would imagine using those powers.
Chronicle is shot in that hand-held video camera style. It’s not too jumpy or anything – not Cloverfield style, thankfully. But either way, I’m getting a little tired of this style and all the little excuses they have to make in the script for why there is a camera on everything. Andrew starts using the camera in the first place as a way of documenting his mom and stuff. I can get that, she’s dying and he wants to have things to hold on to, but then he just films everything, 24/7. And there are at least two times where the reason for things being filmed is pretty flimsy.
This is certainly not a perfect film, but it is an interesting take on the super hero idea. I liked it, despite the problems. It’s still a solid three kittenhands. If the genre is something you’re into, check it out on the big screen. The last 20 minutes might be worth it alone. But otherwise, you could check the DVD later.
~ Neil T. Weakley, your average movie-goer, wondering why all the damaged emo kids get all the super powers.