Chronicle (2012)

Chronicle (2012) – The found footage film is getting kind of played out. I mean it started as more-or-less a novelty and now everyone’s doing it. Not to be confused with a mockumentary, which presents the film as a documentary (though sometimes as one gone horribly awry as in The Last Exorcism or Behind the Mask: The Rise of Leslie Vernon), a found footage film is just people dicking around with cameras while whatever the story of the movie happens. The Blair Witch Project was obviously the breakthrough hit of the subgenre and other films like Cloverfield and Paranormal Activity have used it well too. But these movies just… keep… coming… The Paranormal Activity series has basically been the same movie three times (though with enough slight changes to keep it entertaining in my humble opinion) and do we really need another one? I mean how much subjective point of view and shaky camerawork do we really need as a people?

At least this one more. Chronicle is pretty damn good. The main character and frequent cameraman is Andrew (Dane DeHaan). He begins filming his life to get evidence that his father (Michael Kelly) is an abusive asshole. Due to his social awkwardness he pretty much starts carrying the camera and recording at all times. He’s not very social, only really interacting with his cousin Matt (Alex Russell). Matt drags him to a rave at an abandoned mill when Matt and popular Class President candidate Steve (Michael B. Jordan from The Wire, proving once again that cast members from The Wire need to be in everything always) find a hole in the ground and want Andrew to record their find. If you’ve seen the trailers you know they all get telekinetic powers. You also know a lot more than you should about the direction the movie takes. Well, just because the clueless marketing department chose to spoil it doesn’t mean I have to.

The characters are well developed and due to the mid-film development that “hey, I can control the camera with my brain!” the cinematography is at many times less jerky than it usually is in these types of movies. The whole “found footage” thing is usually treated as a gimmick but like most methods of telling a story it is just a tool that different film-makers can use. First-time director Josh Trank knows how to use it well. Pending the financial success of this film he’s been recruited to helm the reboot of the Fantastic Four, which has the potential to be awesome (potential which has previously been squandered by the previous film versions).  Matt Reeves followed Cloverfield with the rather great horror remake Let Me In, proving he wasn’t all shaky cameras and confused characters. I’m hoping Trank demonstrates the same range with Fantastic Four or whatever he does next. Wherever he goes from here, he’s off to one hell of a start.

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