Andrew Detmer (Dance DeHaan) isn’t popular in his high school. And buying a camera to continuously record everything he sees doesn’t make him any more so. (Considering the size of the device it is a wonder school officials don’t ban it.)
But after stumbling across a curious hole in the ground while attending a rave with his cousin Matt (Alex Russell) and Matt’s friend Steve (Michael B. Jordan), Andrew is badgered into following the two other teens down into the cavity with his recorder. In the cave, they find a seemingly innocuous glowing rock formation. But when they emerge, the trio discovers they’ve been empowered with supernatural abilities.
While it takes time to master their new potential, the teens are soon able to move heavy objects and even fly. For Steve and Matt, their acquired powers aren’t much more than a really neat party trick. However things are different for Andrew. His unhappy home and school life bring out the worst in him. Granted the capability to inflict pain and vengeance, his strength becomes something to use for his own interest.
Like The Blair Witch Project and Cloverfield, Chronicle is shot mostly with handheld cameras, resulting in intimate, in-your-face frames and plenty of jiggly footage. And like those films, this one may gain a cult following. Packed with profanities and some brief sexual discussion, the movie also portrays a verbally and physically abusive father, and unchecked bullying at school. Both of these are used to rationalize Andrew’s actions. Yet his retaliation becomes more and more disturbing as hundreds of innocent people are also targeted. The most graphic depiction is the impaling of one character.
While one of these young men attempts to reason with Andrew, the angry youth isn’t about to hear it. And his sense of justification may be a dangerous message for teens that might be feeling left on the sidelines themselves.