CHRONICLE. Starring Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan, Michael Kelly. Directed by Josh Trank. Rated M (Violence). 84 minutes.
Reviewed by Fr Peter Malone MSC
CHRONICLE sounds a fairly straightforward title – though the film runs for only 84 minutes, rather a short time for a chronicle.
This is another hand-held camera story, allegedly using footage taken by Andrew (Dane de Haan), the central character, with his new camera.
In the latter part of the film, other alleged footage from surveillance cameras and other sources is edited in.
So, we are in the Blair Witch tradition, though the story takes us in quite a different direction.
All seems rather domestic at first: Andrew’s room, his alcoholic father, his ailing mother, school where he is put down all the time, a party where he irritates people by filming.
His main friend is his cousin Matthew (Alex Russell) who tries to put the brakes on all the filming, hoping Andrew will get a life.
He does, but the most hoped-for.
Matthew is joined by class president, Steve (Michael B. Jordan) as they explore a mysterious hole in the ground and ask Andrew to film.
Something in the hole exercises a strange power and they become telekinetic as well as finding they can soar into the air.
Strong change of pace at this juncture.
What first seems something jokey and a bit of horseplay becomes something dangerous, fatal for one of the group.
And Andrew seems to be taken over by the power, becoming extremely vindictive, cruel to friends and his many foes, ultimately becoming, not a superhero, but a supervillain.
He could have become a Spiderman-type for good but turns into the Green Goblin and the other evil characters from the Spiderman films.
The film becomes rather spectacular by the end as Andrew wreaks his revenge as well being destructive just because he can.
He rationalises his attitudes with theories of evolution and survival of the fittest, rather Nietschean (though Schopenhauer and Plato are quoted), an evil super-man beyond morality.
Chronicle was filmed in South Africa with quite some interesting special effects – South Africa did a very good job with District 9 and its effects some years ago.
Younger audiences will identify with the characters and the situations and then be challenged by Andrew’s behaviour.
This one has proven popular and may be on its way to cult movie status.
Fr Peter Malone MSC is an associate of the Australian Catholic Office for Film and Broadcasting.