Chronicle tells the story of three high school students who develop superpowers overnight. Andrew (DeHaan) is a shy loner who has never had any friends. He decides to start filming his life, presumably to document the verbal and physical abuse his alcoholic father (Kelly) dishes out. We see how his environment shapes his mentality, and how popularity and embarrassment can dramatically alter fickle adolescent emotions and thoughts. His cousin Matt (Russell) is interested in philosophy and girls. After witnessing the destructive potential of their powers, he institutes rules to govern their use. And the third is Steve (Jordan), the popular kid in school who wants to go into politics because he's good with faces. A good kid with a good heart, he would prefer to use their newfound talents to put on a playful magic show.
These characters are the essence of the story, because this is really a character-driven meditation on teen angst (despite the superpowers). Infused with the kind of puerile humor that would make funniest home videos, it is genuinely engaging and fascinating. How would three high schoolers actually respond to that kind of ability? It is astonishing how rapidly jokes can turn mean and pranks can turn sadistic. And this movie seems ready, almost anxious, to discuss the fragility of human emotion. Much like Irreversible, we see small moments in the events that lead up to the climax that make us think, what if? What if this one word, this one reaction, had been heard and felt?
The movie manages to be both contrived and eminently believable. It uses the "found footage" concept to great effect in offering up realism, but never really explains how it all got edited together (and with other sources spliced in). The experiments the kids do to test the limits of their power are clever and inventive, but the climactic finale is just a little too preposterous for me. I am only able to suspend my disbelief so far; beyond that I am taken out of the experience. I can see how silly I look sitting in the theater, watching a movie where a boy is wrapped head-to-toe in bandages, yelling at the top of his lungs with glass windows shattering all around him.
Overall, this is a great film. It is breathlessly-paced and powerfully-told. It has so much to say, but doesn't always use the right tools. I felt like it came out of the conception phase a little too early; I wanted it to cook a little more and mature a bit before they committed it to film. I wanted to see a classic fable of the teenage years that would stand the test of time. This does not do that, but it's an original, electrifying film nonetheless.
IMDb link: http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1706593/