Found footage films have become a growing trend in the last two decades.
The earliest evidence of these types of films dates back to 1980 with the film, “Cannibal Holocaust”, which follows the found footage taken from a documentary film crew filming indigenious tribes in the Amazon. Not only was it possibly the first film to influence this ever-growing trend, but it was also a film which sparked widespread controversy due to its graphic nature. Cannibal Holocaust may have also been an influence for the “Hostel” series of films.
Most found footage films are considered and sometimes advertised as being based on true events, and most center around a slew of unforeseen and extreme events. The found footage style of filming was widely made popular through the release of films like The Blair Witch Project (1999), Paranormal Activity (2007), Cloverfield (2008), Apollo 18 (2011) and The Devil Inside (2012).
So as you can see from most of the titles released in this style, found footage films seem to be widely popular as horror films, but what about as a science fiction thriller like Chronicle, a film directed by Josh Trank, a young 28-year old director.
Chronicle is a Science Fiction Thriller Film starring Dane DeHaan as the title character Andrew Detmer, a young troubled teen with a cancer-ridden dying mother and an alcoholic, abusive father who struggles to fit in at high school along with bullies and unpopularity. From the start of the film, Andrew begins to document his everyday life, bringing his expensive looking camera along with him everywhere.
Alongside his cousin Matt (Alex Russell) and popular quarterback Steve (Michael B. Jordan), the boys stumble upon a mysterious hole in the woods one night after a rave party, which leads them to a dark, underground cave containing a crystalline object that gives off a strange sound and bluish glow. The boys are exposed to the object’s power, as the stone turns red and they experience nosebleeds and pain.
The scene skips ahead a few weeks later, as the boys demonstrate their newfound telekinetic abilities. As they continue to practice with their abilities, enduring pain and nosebleeds that comes with overexertion, they continue to feel their powers growing stronger. As they continue to grow stronger, they start to slowly bring their powers out into the forefront, which could lead to dangerous consequences, especially for one of the teens.
So its time to talk about my thoughts on the film. To be honest, when I saw the initial trailer for Chronicle in the theaters, I couldn’t understand what it was about, and I wasn’t already intrigued by the found footage style of filming that has made movies like Paranormal Actvity just become “Hollywoodized”, or whatever the word is that I can’t remember. But of course going in with much skepticism, I left everything I thought at the door and sat back to see what Chronicle would offer. My initial reaction was rather dizzying. I was not used to the found footage style of filming, and seeing how this was my first found footage film I’d seen, it took a while for my eyes to adjust to the shaky, unprofessional camerawork. But as the story progressed, I began to care a lot about the characters themselves, and I started to connect with the story. By the end of the movie, stupidly enough, I was finally able to decipher why the movie was entitled “Chronicle”, and if you still don’t know why, here’s a definition:
Chronicle, according to the Merriam-Webster dictionary, can be defined as “an historical account of events arranged in order of time usually without analysis or interpretation.”
Well duh, it was so obvious and yet I was so dumbfounded until the end as to what the word meant. Gosh…
But yeah, to get back to the review, I have to give special praise to the stars of this film. The three boys in question, even though they aren’t big-name actors or major stars in their fields, brought together their talents to deliver what felt like a genuine, heartfelt tale of the lives of three boys brought together by a newfound power. My heart especially went out to Andrew, because after a full day of filming “a day in the life” in his shoes, you start to really get a sense of the type of hell he had to go through day in and day out. Matt and Steve were just really helpful characters in handling Andrew and being able to bring him out of his shell with the help of the powers given to them throughout the film, and the found footage style caters to the story by offering viewers a chance to see these characters living life before and after they receive their powers.
For a film directed by a younger director, and one whose made his big-screen debut in North America, this film was definitely one that earns a lot of praise for Trank, whom is one of the youngest director’s to make #1 in the box office in both the U.K., and the U.S. followed by Steven Spielberg (28) with Jaws, and James Cameron (30) with The Terminator. Trank has also been rumored to be tied to the Fantastic Four reboot, according to screenrant.com.
What I would like to see is for this film to be left alone: no string of sequels attached, because then it would fall under the bus just like Paranormal Activity has, or in an unrelated series, the Saw films.
Final Score: 8 out of 10