Ever since 'The Blair Witch Project' 13 years ago, we've been bombarded with "found footage" films. They're made for almost no money and are certified box office gold - case-in-point, the 'Paranormal Activity' franchise, which is set to release movie number four this October. The found footage genre's latest offering is 'Chronicle'. Three high school seniors Andrew (Dane DeHaan, 'In Treatment'), Matt (Alex Russell, 'Wasted On The Young') and Steve (Michael B. Jordan, 'Friday Night Lights'), who wouldn't normally be friends make a discovery that gives them telekinetic powers. Like a muscle, the more they use their newfound powers the stronger they get, until one of the boys starts to loose control. As luck would have it, Andrew has developed a recent habit of videotaping his life due to his dying mother and alcoholic, abusive father, and as such uses this tool to document the boys' growing power and exploits.
The movie starts out fairly strong thanks to its concept, but it falters once the much-to-be-desired special effects kick in. Once you accept that that's simply how they're going to look for the duration of the movie, things pick back up again. Unfortunately the found-footage element is too neat and at times you forget you're supposed to be watching a teenage boy's handheld camerawork, due to the picture quality, shots, cuts and angles.
At the film's climax, the filmmakers employ the use of security camera footage from shops, buildings, police cars, helicopters and even the public's personal devices. The plausibility of some of these avenues come and go. What the filmmakers needed to do was study their successful predecessors such as 'Paranormal Activity', 'REC' and 'The Tunnel' who have all done the genre so beautifully. It's almost as though the found-footage concept was an afterthought, and as a result there were certain scenes the filmmakers were not willing to sacrifice - and the movie suffers for it.
While a wasted opportunity to make a truly great film, the concept is great and thankfully this movie uses its genre to step away from horror and go for a supernatural element for a nice change of pace. It's definitely entertaining, even though the film's execution isn't as well done as it should be.