FOUND footage style films have become increasingly popular ventures for film studios, their relatively low production costs offer the potential for high financial returns. Studios have been keen to keep the money train going.
Chronicle, is a found footage film, certificate 12A, with an estimated budget of around £15 million, small change considering the budget of the impending Avengers film is estimated at being over £200 million. The film is the feature debut of director, Josh Trank and its screenplay was written by Max Landis, son of horror movie director John Landis. The film’s screenplay has previously featured on the Hollywood Black List. A list complied of the best unproduced screenplays. Film’s such as Juno and The Social Network have previously featured on the list.
Featuring relatively unknown actors, the film’s plot focuses on three high school youths, Mat, Steve and Andrew. The three have an encounter with a glowing object while investigating a cave. Their close encounter leaves the three with superhuman abilities.
Dane Dehaan stands out as the shy Andrew. His character documents the trio, as they learn to harness their new abilities, discovering they have the power of telekinesis and flight. Andrew’s character learns to control his powers better than his friends and the unpopular loner, disguises his powers with magic tricks in an attempt to become more popular at school.
But the boys discover that as Peter Parker proclaimed in Spiderman: “with great power comes great responsibility.” What starts out as fun and jovial, develops into something much darker and serious.
The film is very much a film of two halves. The first half suits the found footage approach that the director has chosen, as the boys have fun with their powers, in particular a brilliant sequence in a toy store, playing Jackass style pranks on unsuspecting victims.
But as the film enters its closing stages, the found footage style becomes an alienating element for the viewer, the camera switches between various camera sources. The style doesn’t suit the final climatic battle and the feature becomes too visually restrictive to enjoy.
Chronicles is a film that has emerged with very little fanfare. It’s great to see a super hero film that isn’t weighed down by expectations from fans. The decision to focus the story on Andrew and his shift from hero to villain makes the film a refreshing entry within the genre. Sadly the films style might frustrate some viewers and had the director taken a more traditional cinematic approach the feature may have been a more enjoyable cinematic experience.
Review by William McClean