Teenagers with superpowers get the first-person treatment
First published on . Updated on .
Why are we filming this? That’s the question that plagues a number of found-footage flicks, from Cloverfield to Paranormal Activity to the genre’s great-granddaddy, The Blair Witch Project. Once the freaky-deaky shit starts happening, the characters’ urge to continually roll camera can feel increasingly contrived. (Dude, there’s a growly, rampaging Godzilla thing stormin’ toward ya…Run!) The superhuman-juveniles-run-amok thriller Chronicle succeeds by mainly treating the why as an afterthought—a B-movie gimmick that needs little justification depending on the quality of the goods surrounding it.
Oh sure, we learn that brooding high schooler Andrew Detmer (DeHaan) is filming his life because it helps filter out the bad stuff (abusive father, dying mother, no friends to speak of). But any oh-so-knowing commentary on our plugged-in culture is quickly tossed aside once Andrew, his cousin Matt (Russell) and charisma machine Steve (Jordan) get irradiated by a glowing Fortress of Solitude–like structure and receive some otherworldly gifts. With great power comes, well, license to do whatever the hell you want—a prankish test-our-powers interlude at a mall; a football game…in the friggin’ sky! First-time director Josh Trank, working from a taut script by Max “Son of John” Landis, indulges in some wild, witty spectacle, but he’s equally adept with the tale’s grimmer elements, especially when the introverted Andrew unleashes his inner Magneto and uses the city of Seattle as his tear-it-apart emotional playground. The heartbreakingly doleful DeHaan flies around like Quasimodo in search of sanctuary; anyone who’s ever been in a teenage world of hurt can sympathise.