The "lost-footage" genre gets an inventive twist in "Chronicle" by switching from a paranormal tale of ghosts and demons to one of high-school students developing super powers. Not a huge hit at the box office, director Josh Trank and writer Max Landis have concocted a continuously compelling film about what would happen if we developed powers that we had no idea how to control.
When three friends discover a hole in the ground that holds a mysterious glowing object, they experience a brief moment of fright, excitement, and confusion when the object elicits a bright light and noise. Soon enough, the three can move things with their mind - including their own bodies. But when the bullied kid of the bunch (played by Dane DeHaan) - whose mother is dying, whose father regularly hits him, and who is tormented at school - finally snaps, his powers become a weapon of unimaginable power.
"Chronicle" is great fun and the special effects are a hoot. What's nice is that the filmmakers take the time to develop the characters and get into their heads as they discover their strengths and weaknesses. The "lost-footage" gimmick works well here (although some moments are a stretch) because it takes away the use of a score which makes it seem more penetrating because the intensity comes from what is occurring and not how the music is telling us to react. Editing is also top-notch, taking us out of scenes before a joke gets spoiled or a beat is hit too hard.
Special Features are slim: There is the Theatrical Trailer, a Pre-Viz featurette showing a computer animated mock-up of two key special effects sequences, and a Camera Test of a scene in a diner that exhibits how some of the effects would work. Interestingly, the scene is almost identical to the one in the film but with entirely different actors. There is also one deleted scene which is mildly interesting.
Note: There is a Director's Cut "Lost Footage" edition included on the blu-ray which runs about five minutes longer than the theatrical version. Having seen both, it's hard to tell which scenes were new, but they seem to be more character-based than special effects laden.
Lack of Special Features aside, this is a great, fun little movie that is well-worth checking out on a great home theatre system. It looks great on Blu-ray and the sound is awesome.