DIRECTOR: Josh Trank
May Contain Spoilers!
It all started with The Blair Witch Project. Wrong! The found footage fad started earlier than 1999 with horror flick Cannibal Holocaust (1980), a film which I have no intention of watching so there’s no need to expect a review any time soon.
Chronicle pushes the concept of “Found Footage” even further as we follow three high school boys as they discover a cave, presumably a meteor strike and become affected by its contents. All three quickly develop telekinetic abilities, which grow with each passing day, until they can stand a serious chance being run down by a passing jet liner! (Yes, they can fly)
But this doesn’t go down the superhero route. This plays with the age-old adage, “absolute power corrupts, absolutely”, as the three young men, each with their own angst and motivations, struggle to rationalise and control their powers. One, is physically abused by his father, whilst his cousin is just straight-laced and plays everything safe. The third is a cool, popular budding student politician type.
All three enjoy their powers, playing practical jokes on people and doing what we would probably, but shouldn’t be doing with such abilities, until eventually, the abused boy begins to lose his control and perspective on what’s right and wrong. This is summed up in scenes such as him throwing a car of the road and killing a spider in a brutal but primal fashion.
This is a very well shot and composed film, looking at the nature of power and the emotional drives which can easily corrupt it. What starts out as being fun, soon become abused to the point of evil, but none of the characters are evil. The worst is just disturbed and misguided but the terror which he reaps upon the city in the final act shows how the distinction can easily be blurred.
In short, there’s noting wrong with story or the presentation as a whole, just the found footage motif. The commitment to this medium just isn’t there. The photography is just too good, as is the film stock and the contrivances to make it work, such as the floating camera and the fact that so many of the main characters are photographers, are just too much of a stretch. They touch on this at times and certainly don’t shy away from the issues but I found that it took me out of the movie.
The story didn’t need it and without this conceit I probably would have given this 9/10. Chronicle is a nice little indie film, which looks great and is about something. The logic of the movie works and so would the cinematography is it wasn’t supposed to be amateur. It looks professional so is this a compliment or not? Not really, as it failed to convince me of what it was trying to do, but if they had dropped this found footage idea, it would have looked great!
A great film, well performed, written and executed with the exception of the amateur found footage, which was a major let down.