Chronicle (2012)

<strong class="MovieTitle">Chronicle</strong> (2012)

(On-demand video, July 2012) I’m (still) not a big fan of found-footage films, but Chronicle knows how to use the conventions of that sub-genre in order to make the familiar feel fresh.  The story of three high-school students discovering telekinetic powers, Chronicle could have been just another dull superhero-origins-story rethread if it had been executed with more mainstream sensibilities.  Here, though, it takes on a harder, almost horror-centered approach and filters it through the unpolished lenses of consumer-grade cameras.  The result feels a great deal more visceral than objective filmmaking, exactly what found-footage is meant to achieve at its best.  The slow ramping-up of the film’s SF content is handled well, and leads to an impressive climax that manages to tell a superhero-sized story through limited technical means.  Writer/director Max Landis and Josh Trank do much with a low budget, and the result is an impressive calling card heralding promising creative talents.  The tone of the story, filled with impulsive self-destructive acts and casual violence, is miles away from the usual heroic tone of similar films, and the result feels much more involving as a result.  The teenage cast does a fine job at delivering the material, but the real star here is the way Chronicle is told, transforming a generic experience into something far more interesting.  It all amount to a small triumph of form over content, but an enjoyable experience nonetheless.  Despite my own misgivings about found-footage films, I welcome it as a pleasant surprise.

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