I recently saw a film that had been on my watch list for a while, Chronicle. A new twist on the increasingly crowded superhero genre.
When writer Max Landis (son of the legendary Director John Landis) and first-time Director Josh Trank pitched this to the studio, they described it as ‘Blair Witch meets Carrie’, which isn’t too far off the mark. It’s as much about the dynamic between three lads as it is about superpowers.
The story follows three students: unpopular Andrew, his cousin Matt, and popular Steve, the latter running for high school president. To boost his popularity, Matt suggests Andrew comes to a rave one night. He gets kicked out for trying to film a guy’s girlfriend and, sitting outside the rave, Steve approaches him saying he’s found something in the woods with Matt. They find a hole in the ground and head into it to investigate. Something happens in the hole and all three gain powers of telekenesis. Initially they use their powers for mischief and, later on, to boost Andrew’s popularity. Eventually things begin to spiral out of control as Andrew starts to use his for darker purposes.
I’ve probably provided more detail than is necessary. I was less aware of the story myself. All I knew was that it was about a group of lads that gain powers and use them to mess around and things go awry. Beyond that it was a discovery. Sometimes it’s great to approach a film like that. Sometimes it pays to know a little more about the story.
In this case, for those of you that haven’t seen or heard of the film, a bit of detail might help set the scene and encourage you to go out and get it on DVD. And you should, for it’s well worth it. Particularly Andrew’s character arc, described in an article as ‘chanelling Dicaprio’s character in “The Basketball Diaries“‘. He’s initially timid and shy, yet the most naturally gifted when using his new found powers with finesse.
If this was Star Wars he’d be Anakin. Essentially good, yet suppressing a dark nature. He begins to embrace the dark side, naming himself an ‘apex predator’, with his friends relatively powerless to stop him. The films builds to an epic climax that, in the ‘found footage’ style, is completely gripping and exhilarating. Check out the trailer…
Likely, credible sequel?
This film performed exceptionally well on a small budget, so naturally there’ll be a sequel. Which form it takes is another question. Josh Trank has other films in the pipeline, and it’s not confirmed the three leads will return.
There’s a few ways the story could go, whichever way it does, it will be face a tough test in terms of originality and overcoming expectation. The dreaded ‘second album’ that musicians face is the same problem the writers will have to overcome. Let’s hope they do, because Chronicle was a bit of a revelation.