Chronicle * * * *
Director: Josh Trank.
Screenplay: Max Landis.
Starring: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly, Ashley Hinshaw, Bo Petersen, Anna Wood, Rudi Malcolm, Luke Tyler.
Shaky-cam, found footage film’s have now become the rung on the ladder for budding filmmakers. Hardly a year goes by now, without at least one popping up on our screens. “The Blair Witch Project“, “Cloverfield” and the very successful “Paranormal Activity” are the most notable. This one though, is the most impressive.
Three teenage friends, Andrew (Dane DeHaan), Matt (Alex Russell) and Steve (Michael B. Jordan) find a hole in the ground, in the middle of the woods. They go down and find a strange illuminated entity. When they emerge, they find that they have telekinetic powers and capabilities. As their great powers grow though, things start to get drastically out of hand.
I’m not a massive fan of superhero movies and quite frankly, I’m a bit tired of seeing them everywhere I look. This film could probably fall into that category but what this has in it’s favour, is a fresh delivery and a real sense of originality.
First off though, I wasn’t entirely convinced by the premise. I found it hard to believe that an awkward, hormone-raging teenager would actually decide to record everything he does on a video camera. To say the least, it stretched credulity. However, the filmmakers are wisely aware of this. They don’t pretend to just pass it off. What they do, is admit to it regularly throughout the early stages of the film. There are constant, self-conscious reminders of people unhappy with it and as result the protagonist takes a bit of a regular beating – but then you would probably do the same if someone had a camera stuck in your face all the time – so the self-conscious aspect pays off enough to keep your disbelief suspended. It even attempts to toss in some philosophical theories that tie-in nicely with the story. This may come across as a bit too ambitious for some but writer Max Landis and director Josh Trank are not arrogant in their delivery. They don’t explain in detail, leaving it wisely up to the intelligence of the audience to notice the references themselves. It’s a clever piece of subtlety that raises this film above the normal standard. One particular mention is of Plato’s allegory of “The Cave” which is entirely fitting for the unravelling of the story. It also explores the different nature in individuals and manages to incorporate a deep sense of ethics. Altruism and Hubris play a big part in the unravelling of the characters and with the level of intelligence and philosophical undercurrent, this is a welcome modern take on the superhero genre.
As the story progresses, the standard shaky-cam approach is gradually abandoned in favour of a
more ambitious style. In keeping with the plot, more inventive and convincing ways are delivered, freeing it from the shackles of it’s particular sub-genre.
A highly creative and ambitious endeavour that has set a benchmark for film’s of this type. It’ll be interesting to see if this style of filmmaking can actually be bettered after this.