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Chronicle

Chronicle

Released 1 February 2012
Director Josh Trank
Starring


Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly, Ashley Hinshaw
Writer(s) Max Landis
Producer(s) John Davis, Adam Schroeder
Origin United Kingdom, United States
Running Time 84 minutes
Genre Drama, horror, sci-fi
Rating 12A
83

We're not in Smallville anymore.

While found footage film Cloverfield was about the psychic shadow of terrorist attack in a post 9/11 world as assuredly as Godzilla was about post atomic terror in Japan, Chronicle harkens back to something even more basic. Like Cloverfield it contains both a YouTube generation propensity for video blogging and a preoccupation with heavy duty destruction but rather than outward attack by unexplainable foreign agent, Chronicle is an age old tale of anomie, where disenfranchised people divested of reason for control can become as deadly as bombs, with none more so inclined than the average American teenager.

The video camera conceit starts early when Andrew (In Treatment and True Blood's Dane DeHaan) begins documenting his father's violent behaviour in the home but continues throughout the film in his obsessive efforts to chronicle life as a whole. Soon joined by two other students; Steve his cousin and oldest friend (newcomer Alex Russell) and the popular Matt (Michael B. Jordan of The Wire) they discover a strange alien cavern outside a high school rave and are given telekinetic powers. But like Carrie, The Craft, Akira and even Spiderman when grappling with powers supernatural or superhuman things don't always go exactly to plan and the teenager's early wonder at the breadth of their new abilities gradually turn to fear at the extent of what one of them is capable of doing.

While the movie wraps itself in a sci-fi bundle, we're never truly allowed to escape some of the more crushing quotidian concerns of these teenager's lives. So that despite moments of wish-fulfilling fantasy as when the trio take flight, Chronicle still grounds us with teen hang ups like high school bullying and not fitting in, as well as even darker undercurrents like a young adolescent dealing with an abusive father and terminally ill mother. The teens are written well and the ambiguous state of flux where the teenage mindset resides is eked out in ways both humorous, believable and insightful. They don philosophies which we as an audience see they barely have a grasp of yet in an effort to understand their situation and work through the moral implications of their newly found gifts in understated ways that make their portrayals commendable character studies and a relatively short eighty-three minutes seem full.

With a finale that, without even considering its modest budget, is spectacular, Chronicle is thrilling enough to wipe anything approaching a smug smile from many a seasoned director's face and like its young cast is definitely one to watch.

- Cormac O’Brien