“Chronicle” is part of an emerging genre of movies called the “found footage” film. It unfolds as if we’re watching the footage found on the camera of Andrew (Dane DeHaan), who purchases a video camera and begins to film what his life is like.
That life is filled with heartache. Andrew’s mother (Bo Petersen) is dying from cancer. His father (Michael Kelly) is a drunken, disabled former firefighter who physically and verbally abuses Andrew, who’s also bullied at school.
His best friend is his cousin, Matt (Alex Russell). Matt is better attuned to the life of a teen. He has friends, one of whom is Steven (Michael B. Jordan), candidate for class president.
Matt invites Andrew to a party at an abandoned building where the high school crowd holds raves.
Later that night, Matt and Steven get Andrew to go with them to explore a shaft in the ground. In that shaft, they find a formation of crystals that glow with power. After the trio emerges, they all have telekinetic powers.
At first, they use the powers for pranks and playing around. But as they continue to use the powers, the stronger they get.
For example, they soon develop the power to fly. They realize they need to govern their new abilities, so they talk about rules for using their powers.
This doesn’t seem hard for Steven and Matt, but it is for Andrew. His fragile self-image and esteem cannot handle the rush of these newfound powers.
Add to this the fact that Andrew is becoming more powerful than the other two, and Andrew begins using his powers in darker, more extreme ways.
“Chronicle” is an interesting meditation on what happens when the downtrodden soul is empowered and given the means to strike back at those who despitefully use them.
What happens when the bullied in our society reach a breaking point – and then find empowerment? (The recent shooting in Ohio points to these themes.)
What do we do with teens that have such issues? The movie does not offer any answers but gives a window on what happens when one of these “different, quiet” types finds a means of expressing the pent-up rage within.
As to the movie’s merits, it is interesting and entertaining, especially the “found footage” approach.
It also dovetails with the documentary, “Bully,” which tells real stories of teens being pushed around by others, coming out later this year.
“Chronicle” provides an entertaining way of asking questions about the effect abuse has on teens searching for a means of expression.
As I watched it, I was aware of my own hatred of those years and how much I did not fit in with others.
The movie could be a means of helping teens speak to what is happening in their lives and expressing the hurt they feel – before it becomes something too great to talk about.
MPAA Rating: PG-13 for intense action and violence, thematic material, some language, sexual content and teen drinking.
Director: Josh Trank
Writer: Max Landis
Cast: Dane DeHaan: Andrew; Alex Russell: Matt; Michael B. Jordan: Steven; Michael Kelly: Richard Detmer; Bo Petersen: Karen Detmer.
The movie’s website is here.
Michael Parnell is pastor of Temple Baptist Church in Raleigh, North Carolina. He is married and has two boys. His love is for movies, and he can be found in a theater most Fridays.