‘Chronicle’ is a strange film, very strange indeed. It features noone you will have ever heard of in the cast or the film-makers (bar son of the famous director John, Max Landis who co-wrote the story), has a low budget of $15 million and a crazy viral marketing campaign. A lot of mystery surrounds the film, and a lot fo it isn’t answered throughout, so I’ll try to review this strange, but ultimately very good film aswell as possible!
The story is this: loner Andrew (Dane DeHaan) decides to start filming every moment of his rather tragic life. His mother is on her deathbed, he has an abusive father and no friends other than cousin Matt (Alex Russell). Andrew is a character the audience pities, and sees his literal hell of a life, glad it isn’t their own. Andrew and Matt go to a party out in the countryside and are persuaded by school president candidate Steve (Michael B. Jordan) to go and investigate a strange hole in the ground. One thing leads to another and the three are given superpowers, which, naturally for teenage boys, they use to cause fun. As they grow stronger, the relationships strain and Andrew becomes more and more mentally unstable.
For the most part, the story is pretty vacant and just sees the three main leads roaming around playing pranks on the public. During this section, a lot of laughs were to be had, but ultimately there was a big gaping hole, like the cause of the powers, where the story was meant to be. A major death to one of the three (I won’t spoil who!), seems to kickstart the ailing picture, and the last 30 minutes or so are pretty brilliant.
One of the reasons why I felt the story wasn’t properly told was the way the entire film was shot through ‘shakey-cam’, where the characters were supposedly filming the events. For the majority of the time, this was Andrew, but later on we were introduced to a blogger, passer-by’s mobile phones and even CCTV footage! However, I did feel this provided extra tension to certain scenes, especially the CCTV which added the black and white filter, and no sound which was quiet eerie in one particular scene involving Andrew and his father.
A couple of things I wasn’t massively keen on were the eventual ending, throughout the finale I was thinking of where they could go with the sequel, but certain events mean that it may have to be contrived, perhaps a prequel. Overall, I was pleased with the ending as many recent films have been instead content with setting up ill-deserved sequels, but I felt this concept hadn’t been fully realised here, and perhaps a sequel could correct this. The origins of the cause of the power are never fully explained, and certain lines when Andrew goes slightly loopy, got me thinking. So, the ending, whilst satisfying, didn’t really solve many of the mysteries, so perhaps the short 83 minute running time could’ve been extended by even another 10/20 minutes to create a better conclusion.
The special effects were brilliant throughout, as the three went about flying and causing havoc, nothing was overdone and the budget could’ve been that of a summer blockbuster. I definitely think that director Josh Trank will become the next big director of action movies, as he seemed to be able to squeeze every last drop out of his tight budget, which should be easily made in one week in the US alone. It has had ‘buzz’ ever since it’s trailer came out before ‘Paranormal Activity’ back in October, and the current positive reviews could see this reach number 1 at the box-office, and you know what it deserves it!
It may be short, snappy and not massively original, but ‘Chronicle’, is a great film, not quite brilliant, but certainly a good way to spend just under an hour and a half!