‘Chronicle’ a sleek, fast-paced fantasy
Yes, the aptly titled “Chronicle” focuses on three super-powered teenagers, granted a wide array of telekinetic abilities by a mysterious object at the end of a long, creepy, underground tunnel. But the heart of the story has less to do with flying through the sky or performing jaw-dropping magic tricks; instead, the tale of a lonely boy and his hovering camera unnervingly draw you into this slick science fiction-fantasy-drama.
Written by Max Landis and directed by Josh Trank, who together designed the story, “Chronicle” somehow comes across as fresh, even when the plot and its devices span a variety of genres and more popular movies and television shows. There’s the revenge of the outsider (“Carrie”), the camera perspective (“Paranormal Activity”) and the bestowing of otherworldly powers to ordinary citizens (“Heroes”). But it’s the talented, and unpretentious, blend of these works that make “Chronicle” more than the sum of its parts.
The film opens with Andrew (a well-casted Dane DeHann), the son of a dying mother and a raging alcoholic of a father. Andrew is busy recording himself, documenting the highlights of life. And while it’s never explained why exactly he’s doing it, it’s something he does for the rest of the movie. (Every scene is shown through a camera’s perspective.)
Camera in tow, Andrew is dragged to a party by his cousin Matt (Alex Russell). Here, the slow start kicks into high gear. The pair, along with popular student Steve (Michael B. Jordan), makes the life-altering decision to explore a large hole in the ground. And what a creepy tunnel it was.
And though you may expect the excursion to be more stimulating in either a horror or suspenseful way, the scene instead quickly cuts to the boys reveling in their newfound powers, most notably telekinesis.
Matt and Steve have fun with their new powers, seeing them as a way to have some fun. As may be expected after witnessing Andrew’s life, he takes a darker course.
On that note, there’s definitely a current of mischief, mostly malicious, that taints the boys’ seemingly boyish behavior: They scare small kids and forcibly relocate people’s possessions. Trank does a great job adding some sense of discovery as the teenagers flex their new muscles.
Though Russell and Jordan are likable enough as characters, it’s DeHaan who shines. His vulnerability, similar to the young Leonardo DiCaprio is “What’s Eating Gilbert Grape,” is captivating.
You see his descent into darkness, and you want to help, but you know you can’t because, in the end, this is his chronicle.
Four telekinetic stars out of five.