Tuesday, June 26, 2012
Never Netflix This: Chronicle
Chronicle is one of those found-footage feature films that the viewer wishes could be un-found out of their minds. Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHann) takes to videotaping everything in his life ever since his alcoholic father starting throwing more than just words at him. His dad is not what you would consider a "happy" drunk. Andrew's abuse doesn't stop at home: boys (and girls) at school bully him and laugh in his face. He's the type of kid who chose to carry a video camera to shoot film instead of an Uzi to shoot fellow students in the face. Somehow, Andrew makes it to a high-school party, and when his friends, Matt (Alex Russell) and Steve (Michael B. Jordan), discover a circular, mysterious hole in the middle of a grassy field on the property, they convince Andrew to bring his camera down to take a look. What they discover is a glowing UFO-ish type object that causes them to stare and gawk like Kate Upton just untied her bikini and dropped it to the floor.
The annoying characters find out that this staring has led them to develop special powers: no, not overcoming their boring personalities, but moving objects with their mind. At first, when using these powers, the boys play pranks on unsuspecting citizens--for instance, they make a teddy bear come alive in front of a shrieking girl, build a large Lego tower by concentrating, and--in one incredibly irritating scene--move a car to another parking spot. The amount of strain on the character's face and the camera work is lame and unconvincing: it's akin to pretending to open an automatic door with "The Force" (which is also a helleva lot cooler). There's a scene, once the boys learn how to levitate (and then fly), in the film where the friends play football among the clouds, high above the Earth. It was one time when I wasn't concerned about concussions and football. As in I wish they suffered brain damage and began to show signs of dementia.
The film turns more dark and disturbing once the friends, specifically Andrew, begin to use the new-found power in a more violent fashion. He's the super anti-hero, causing tailgaters to drive off bridges and bullies to explode blood from their noses. Like the any abused child, Andrew may have a reason to act the way he does. But this is also a woe-is-me tale, with Andrew's friends clearly trying to help Andrew out of his shell, with little to no effect. It's an origin story for the bullied generation, a revenge tale that is derivative of dozens of different and better films (X-Men, Carrie, etc.). There's a scene in the film, not long after the viewer's realize that Andrew has the mental makings of a sociopath, where the angry teen destroys a spider in slow motion with his willpower. This had a similar parallel to my viewing of Chronicle, as I slowly disintegrated and eradicated most of the film from my mind.