'Chronicle' (R) (3 STARS)
Written by Max Landis
Directed by Josh Tank
Actors: Dane DeHaan, Alex Russell, Michael B. Jordan, Ashley Hinshaw
"Chronicle" shouldn't be this good but that is what I love about movies, the ones that come out of left field, surprise you and get the job done. This is one of those lost and found footage movies where a video shows up of events that happened in the past. "Cloverfield" is an example of this but "Chronicle" blows that movie out of the water! The movie also has the device known as the hand held camera that shakes and sometimes that is annoying. Here not so much because the director Josh Tank does a great job controlling the camera more. Also the story is very compelling and effective so you forget about the hand held camera.
"Chronicle" tells the story of Andrew and Alex who are cousins. One day they hook up with popular high school classmate Steve and they all go to a party together. They wander out in the back and find a deep hole in the ground like something big crashed into it. The movie never explains what this thing is but we kind of see it and we can guess from there if we want. What is down there is not the point and that is the first thing I liked about "Chronicle". There are no real answers, just an effective, scary and engrossing thriller.
The movie has touches of "Carrie" in it as the boys discover they can move things with their minds. First they will use it for fun and to mess with people but then there is a moment and incident and things start getting serious. Andrew has some problems at home and he is one of those shy kids who gets picked on a lot at school and always carries around a video camera filming everyone. Andrew's situation will also change things drastically and the movie will turn into a battle of good vs. evil.
"Chronicle" turns into sort of a twisted version of a superhero movie and it is way better than "The Green Lantern", the last Spiderman movie and the last X Men prequel. Then "Chronicle" has some effective chills and thrilling moments with it's telekenisis angle just like "Carrie". I was happily surprised by how good this movie looks in the effects department with it's low budget. It just proves that the lower the budget the better the horror/thriller and superhero movie is. I also think the movie is very well written and the Andrew character is very interesting and I love his friendship and relationship with his cousin Matt that I thought was deep and touching.
"Chronicle" is delightfully dark with some better than expected special effects that are scary. This movie could have been so cheesy and could have stepped so wrong but it is solid and much better than most of the teenage centered movies like this. I had a fun time and I cared about the characters. There is a charming and energetic performance by Michael B. Jordan (Friday Night Lights TV show) as Steve. He deserves to be a star and I found his performance captivating. "Chronicle" has the goods and it delivers them without any cute tricks. It is perfect for what it's trying to be and I think people will be surprised how solid it is and how much they like it.