At this point, I’m considering that TYCP project a wash. They have a big old stack of reviews from me and haven’t posted one since Haywire came out. Since I’m overwhelmed with music work on this, the week where the show I’ve been working on has its entire run, I’m posting some of those reviews.
Who would have thought it would take thirty-six years for young men to get their own version of Carrie? Chronicle is a high action gender-swapped version of the classing Stephen King story, substituting late sexual maturation for virginity and a prom for a talent show. The beats, characters, and even the surprising focus on character development are nearly identical.Chronicle is the story of Andrew, a high school outcast with an abusive home life. His father is an alcoholic living off of disability benefits and his mother is dying a slow and painful death without health insurance. He’s picked on at school and has no friends. He begins to film every moment of his life in a search for purpose. That purpose comes when his cousin Matt forces him to a wild party. With class president Steve in tow, the trio is gifted with telekinetic abilities in an underground cavern. Andrew is suddenly thrown into a tight bond of friendship that forces him to open up and discover his own personality and sense of self-worth.
It’s hard to imagine why the production company found it so necessary to hide the actual story of Chronicle. This is not a silly found footage film about high school kids developing super powers. It’s much more than that.
Chronicle is a story about learning to love yourself above everything else. It’s a cautionary tale about the dangers of bullying and domestic abuse. It’s a superhero origin story and a surprisingly accurate look into the lives of modern high school students. It is, in essence, an extremely ambitious film that almost pulls all of its disparate elements together.
Credit has to go to screenwriters Max Landis. Landis adapted a story he co-wrote with director Josh Trank into a taut eighty-five minute sci-fi film. Chronicle is fast, thoughtful, and utterly believable because Landis manipulates the audience from the first frame to accept the whole story. He refuses to fully reveal any character’s motivations. The ambiguity goes from mystery to core plot element as the trio of new friends is forced to accept the limitations of their powers and control.Chronicle makes the most of its low budget with accomplished special effects. Trank and Landis were not shy with their demands. These characters fly, move large inanimate objects, and even rip insects into hundreds of little pieces. Not once do the effects looks fake or cobbled together. In fact, some of the most sincere moments in the film happen while the characters are soaring among the clouds or battling amidst flying cars and collapsing buildings.
The reason Chronicle works so well for so long is its focus. This is not an explosive action film until the final few minutes. It is an intimate drama about a young man coming into his own through extraordinary circumstances. Had the film downplayed its action-packed climax, it would have been flawless.
Unfortunately, the last minute focus on explosions, blood, and gunfights is an unwelcome twist in a story that had supported itself so long on sincerity and character development. It is a testament to the rest of Chronicle that these misguided stunts do not completely derail the film at the conclusion.
Thoughts? Love to hear them.