Chronicle is a found footage film about teenagers who develop mysterious superpowers. The trailer looked good and I was really interested in what the filmmakers would come up with. However, I was wary from past experience because found footage films have a tendency to lose steam somewhere along the way, mostly because they have to work too hard to keep up the pretense of having been shot on the fly. So far I think the Paranormal Activity movies have done the best job of delivering on the promise of the found footage homemade video aesthetic.
Well not any more!
Chronicle is the new champion, not just in terms of how they use that aesthetic but also in terms of how well the filmmakers have told their story. Director Josh Trank and screenwriter Max Landis are unafraid to explore the darkness that can lurk just under the surface of the supposedly carefree teenage years.
The way they set up their primary characters and then go about delivering on each and every one of those setups is solid and very very impressive. Because of the thought that has gone into the powers given to these kids it becomes possible for that supposedly handheld camera to go into places and see things that most other films of this nature could never do convincingly.
The premise is not too different from what it says in the official synopsis but there is so much more going on once the film starts rolling that it is tough to believe that all that information was packed into 83 minutes of screen time.
And lest you think that this film is some sort of triumph for technical gee-whizzery, I can assure you that it is not. The performances by the three lead actors Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell and Michael B. Jordan are so nuanced that it really looks like this is just life being captured on the fly. In fact because it is so effectively executed, a lot of those layers will only become appreciable to people who stop to think for a moment about all that goes on in the film.
When the end credits began to roll the only thought running through my mind was, “Everybody should stop making found-footage films now. Because it’s going to be impossible to top this one.”
I’m going to go out on a limb and say that Chronicle might be the best superhero movie released this year. And I have not forgotten that Nolan, Bale and gang are bringing us the new Batman movie later this year.