Office Christmas Party
Another reminder that allowing your cast to madly improvise instead of actually providing a coherent script with a scintilla of inherent logic often leads to…
Man, you couldn't get me down into that hole in the ground for all the beans in Boston. It's perfectly circular, in the middle of a gloomy, grassy field, and Matt and Steve talk Andrew into bringing his new video camera and filming as they disappear into its dark maw. They use the camera's light and of course the screens of their iPhones. They can't see the bottom.
It's spoiling hardly anything to tell you they find some sort of weird crystalline object. The letters UFO spring to mind. They stare at it and maybe it stares back. Then they discover they can move LEGO pieces using only their minds. This is called telekinesis. Matt looks it up in the dictionary.
From this deceptively ordinary beginning, John Trank's "Chronicle" grows into an uncommonly entertaining movie that involves elements of a superhero origin story, a science-fiction fantasy and a drama about a disturbed teenager. Andrew (Dane DeHaan) is a shy and unpopular high school student with a dying mother and a mean-tempered drunk for a father. Matt (Alex Russell) is his cousin and only friend, a smart kid who quotes Plato as they descend into the hole. Steve (Michael B. Jordan) is cheerful, handsome and running for class president — all the things Andrew isn't.
Whatever it is that happened to them in the hole gives them something overwhelming in common: They have new, challenging superpowers. Discovering this, they act like a bunch of kids. Hell, they are a bunch of kids, and the screenplay by Max Landis does a convincing job of making them realistic teenagers. This is a "found footage" movie like "Blair Witch," allegedly shot on Andrew's camera. Then at a dance, Matt meets the friendly Casey (Ashley Hinshaw), who is making a video diary of her own life for her blog. With two cameras, "Chronicle" gets around the problem that with found footage you never see the character holding the camera. Later, we'll see other points of view: surveillance cameras, cell phone video and, toward the end, some sensational events on TV news.