Chronicle takes control

By Vincenza Parella


Normally, movies in the shaky-cam genre are a wildcard in the film world. It’s hard to tell whether this technique will cause audience members to feel queasy from all the shaking or if it will further engage them by creating a realistic sense of actually being there.

“Chronicle” director Josh Trank decided to use the creative filming technique to emphasize the newfound superpower of main character Andrew Detmer, played by Dane DeHaan.

“You just pretend you’re holding the camera,” Detmer said as he displayed his power by suspending the camera in the air, capturing him and his friends from all angles.

“Chronicle” is very reminiscent of the movie “Carrie,” in which a young protagonist is the black sheep of their high school, has few friends and is abused by their family. In Detmer’s case, the abuse is a result of his father, Richard – played by Michael Kelly. This, among other things, leads him to get the camera in the first place. Detmer wishes to document his own life, his extremely sickly mother Karen, portrayed by Bo Peterson and his father’s abuse.

Detmer’s only friend seems to be his somewhat popular cousin Matt Garetty (Alex Russell), who takes him into the woods outside of a rave to meet up with king of the popular crowd Steve Montgomery, played by Michael B. Jordan. Detmer and Garetty encounter a foreign, alien object while in the woods that gives them odd powers that they later discover to be telekinesis – the ability to move objects with one’s mind.

At first the boys toy around with their exciting and fun new powers by playing pranks on each other and other people, such as turning on a leaf blower to lift a group of girls’ skirts. But then, in a seemingly freak accident, Detmer misuses his powers to shove a car and its irritating driver off the road. From there, events only spiral downward as Detmer’s years of pent up fury consume him, causing an imminent loss of control. “Chronicle” is like a series of unfortunate events where years of misery are masked by the exhilaration of new found power.

The movie’s cinematography is very intriguing because it is all meant to be perceived as found film from different characters as they narrate their own lives. The shaky-cam is quickly done away with once Detmer displays his telekinetic finesse by letting his camera hover and float around everyone. At other points, people randomly jump in and add their own comical commentary to the current events. Garetty’s crush, Casey, played by Ashley Himshaw, uses her own camera to capture more personal and less action-filled scenes of the movie when she comes in contact with the main characters. Towards the end of the film, even security cameras are incorporated into the film to document the rapid slew of incidents that happen.

In knowing the characters’ personal information from watching their video recordings, it is easy for audience members to predict the outcome of upcoming events in the film. While some plot points are easy to predict, others leave you sitting at the edge of your seat wondering why and how that just happened, and wanting only to see more. This film’s mere 84 minutes is not enough.

Trank does an excellent job keeping audiences wrapped up in the story as it keenly follows Detmer and his descent to destruction. At one point, Detmer describes his new philosophy on how the lion does not feel guilty when it kills the gazelle, which he creepily compares to human behavior.

“Chronicle” adapts the clichéd superpower genre and their habit of transforming protagonists for the worse from their supernatural exploitations. Despite all the havoc wreaked by the end of the film, Detmer is the tragic victim to the end rather than an evil being. He will always be the misguided, lost hero of the fatal epoch.

Vincenza Parella can be reached at [email protected]