By Shane M. Dallmann
Just when THE DEVIL INSIDE seemed to have buried the “mockumentary” trend once and for all, along comes CHRONICLE to get it right and start it all over again. That may or may not be a good thing, but CHRONICLE itself is scarcely to blame.
Okay, let’s start by clearing up two misconceptions. CHRONICLE is not a first-person documentary, and it doesn’t pretend to have been assembled by people who happened to stumble across a bunch of amazing footage. Instead of one person with a camera, we get the perspectives of ANY AND ALL cameras (personal, security, media) that happen to be in the vicinity of what’s taking place. Some of the cameras are lost and/or destroyed over the course of the film, and the footage wouldn’t have been recovered in real life–we get to see it anyway, simple as that.
In the meantime, I’m seeing lots of references to CHRONICLE as a “superhero” movie. Ummm… no. It’s a super-POWER movie, unquestionably, but…
You all know the premise… unpopular, camera-toting Andrew is victimized by a seemingly endless succession of bullies (including his own abusive father) while his mother slowly dies of cancer. But one night, Andrew, his cousin Matt and class-president candidate Steve stumble across a MacGuffin which imbues all three of them with telekinetic powers. And guess who turns out to be the most talented of the bunch?
We may have seen this a hundred times since CARRIE, but CHRONICLE remains sufficiently original in its field all the same. Sure, there’s talk of achieving greatness, and Andrew is capable of limiting himself to party tricks sure to enhance his immediate popularity, but it still comes down to what it must… if life was giving you hell and you suddenly had the opportunity to strike back in ANY way you wished… what would YOU do?
The young cast of unknowns is completely convincing and sympathetic, while South African locations and a touch of CGI convey Seattle reasonably well. Not only that, but technology has reached the point where each and every illusion in the film comes off perfectly–all the little tricks work and keep you believing even when all hell breaks inevitably loose.
And for once, the trailers got it right and did NOT blow the entire movie, either visually or emotionally. I, for one, was blown away by the film’s compelling intensity and could NOT safely predict where it was going.
It’s not a superhero film and it doesn’t boast an original premise, but CHRONICLE is nevertheless a standout. Highly recommended.