Just when I'm beginning to tire of the hand-held camera/found footage genre, which has been overcooked over the last few years to say the least, a movie like 'Chronicle' comes along to infuse some new life into the well-worn style started by 'The Blair Witch Project' over 10 years ago. Putting a fresh spin on superhero movies, 'Chronicle' is the best non-horror movie of the type I've seen since 'Cloverfield' and 'District 9.' Sprinkling elements from the NBC series 'Heroes,' Stephen King's 'Carrie' and even the classic anime 'Akira' by Katsuhiro Otomo, 'Chronicle' is every bit as engaging as it is entertaining. It sucks the audience in precisely because its docu-drama style of film-making lends it a realism and its characters an authenticity that more 'traditional' methods could not.
'Chronicle' is the story of Andrew, an angst-ridden, outcast teenager living in that most depressing of suburgatory-hell known as Seattle. Dealing not only with bullies at school but also an abusive father and a terminally ill mother at home, Andrew decides to 'chronicle' his shitty life by getting a camcorder. While Andrew is basically a good kid, from the very outset you just can't shake the feeling that he's a little unstable, that he's a fuse ready to go off. Luckily, his cousin Matt and good friend Steve are both football jocks and keep him even keeled, more or less. Then one day, the three come across an alien artifact that gives them telekinetic powers, which they learn to control over time and become more powerful. I hesitate to use the word 'superhero' on these three because they haven't really done anything 'heroic' or 'noble' that's worthy of the grandest tradition of the title. All they did throughout the movie was play sophomoric pranks on people of the type you'd see on 'Punk'ed' or 'Jackass.' Even so, kids will be kids, right?
So Andrew finds that he's developing his newfound powers a lot faster than his friends and that he's virtually unstoppable (among other things he can fly like Superman by now). Rationalizing himself out of such moral considerations as Spiderman's code-of-conduct 'with great powers come great responsibility,' Andrew's deteriorating situation (culminating in the death of his mom, which his dad blamed on him) finally pushed him over the edge. He became a force-of-nature that can't be stopped, spiralling out of control to its inevitable nihilistic conclusion.
Watching 'Chronicle' is like rubber-necking a train-wreck. Even though you know how it was going to end, you just can't pull your eyes away from it.
8 out of 10