Dir: Josh Trank
Writer: Max Landis (son of John Landis!!!)
review by Tessa
Chronicle opens on a black screen. The buzz of something electronic. A hard bump against an unexpectedly closed door, the rattle of a doorknob, and a man’s voice, already angry, barking “Andrew? Andrew! Open this door.”
Andrew appears behind a camera mounted on a tripod, pointing at the mirror mounted on the locked door. He refuses to open it, accuses his father of being drunk, and tells him that he’ll be taping everything from now on.
And he does, starting on his ride to school the next day with affable cousin Matt, through the hallways where his camera gets made fun of for being too old, and on the bleachers where he eats lunch alone. He introduces each scene to an imaginary audience, sounding proud and unsure at once. “This is where I eat. . . This is my school. . . “ But we can see on his face as he reviews the footage that he is happy to be involved in the filming and creation of something:
Until his dad comes in the room. Andrew’s face immediately closes off.
And his dad slaps him around, pushing him off his chair – payback for not opening the door the night before. Later we hear his dad pleading with the pharmacy to give him a discount on the pain pills that Andrew’s mother needs – she’s painfully dying of cancer in the next room.
It appears that this is a representative capsule of Andrew’s life. His Matt semi-reluctantly invites Andrew to a party in an abandoned building and advises him to leave the camera at home. Of course Andrew doesn’t, accidentally films the wrong girl’s butt, gets spit on by her meathead boyfriend, and ends up crying in the grass. It’s more touching filmed than it sounds, less stereotyped. The documentary style, deft editing, and above average acting skills have already elevated this beyond a cautionary bullying tale.
And then, Andrew’s camera provides him with an in. The extremely popular Steve Montgomery
has found something, along with Matt.
A hole in the ground, filled with a weird buzzing energy.
Inside the hole, something that glows and pulses and messes with the camera. Something overwhelming.
The next time we see Andrew, Matt, and Steve, they’re goofing around in the backyard throwing baseballs at each other. . . from impossible angles. Andrew stops one right in front of his face, using only his mind. Not only is this an incredible secret, it’s Andrew’s ticket to having real friends and feeling like he can be himself around two other people on Earth. Soon the boys are hanging out all the time, making fun of how often Steve’s girlfriend calls him and leaves angry, suspicious voicemails, and eventually taking their powers from Legos to parking lots and toy stores.
Until one day, this happens:
The thing to remember is that this isn’t a Marvel Universe. These are teenage boys, and like all teenagers, their brains are still growing – particularly in the prefrontal cortex, where good decision-making happens. So instead of getting costumes, thinking about responsibility, and fighting crime, these guys just goof around. The only problem is that even though Andrew now has friends and some confidence, he still is suffering from abuse, probably PTSD, and grief. And when the world continues to show him uncaring and injustice, he reacts like a teenager would. But now he’s not just a teenager anymore.
Rent for the great effects and stay for the emotionally resonant story.
Keep your eye out for Chronicle 2, as well.
Shepard nails the weirdness and sadness and funniness in the voice of two middle school boys obsessed with a Plan, and masters the yawning gap of reason as well as the push of invented reason behind inevitable violence.
Group of prepubescent London thugs finds themselves in the middle of an alien attack and must find out what courage really is – more great, old-school effects, and FUNNY.
Stephen King knows from telekinetic rage. Read the books AND watch the movies.