Found-footage movies are, honestly, hit or miss. It can either be tacky, with making it too much about the filming and how you’re supposed to perceive it; or it’s a smash, and you’re completely immersed in the story as the point of view is told through the camera. Chronicle, which was released in 2012, doesn’t get nearly enough hype when it comes to not only anti-hero films, but also sci-fi.
The film follows three guys, Steve (Michael B. Jordan), Matt (Alex Russell) and Andrew (Dane DeHaan), who become connected when they find a mysterious hole, and they’re equipped with powers resembling telekinesis. What starts off as fun and using their powers for small things, quickly takes a dark turn, as Andrew starts to use his powers for evil and dark things. Chronicle deserves more hype, and deserves a re-watch before the sequel, which focuses on a trio of girls with similar powers, comes out. That being said, here are 10 reasons why Chronicle is one of the best anti-hero sci-fi films out there.
Since Chronicle is a movie revolving around sci-fi and telekinetic powers, and since this was filmed in 2012, the CGI wasn’t all there. Is it crazy to say this factor is what makes this film so great? The found-footage element when it comes to this movie and how it works with the CGI element is very great, especially when it comes to the trio learning how to fly. The shots where they’re up in the air, flying through the clouds is so fun and unrealistic, but you’re not really focused on that because of how excited they are about getting so high up in the air.
And then the very fake plane comes flying in, but you can’t even acknowledge how it looks because Steve is falling to his death, and you’re waiting on the edge of your seat to see if Andrew catches him in time. If you’re a stickler for clean-looking CGI, you won’t appreciate how this movie handled the element, but genuinely, it makes it that much more fun to watch.
In almost every genre, the trope of having three main characters isn’t a rarity. It’s the perfect amount of people to focus on and care about; four would be too much, and two has the ability to become stagnant, so the sweet spot is a trio. The three characters, Steve, Matt, and Andrew, mesh so well together, and how they become close is very natural and not awkward since this is a found-footage movie and unnecessary dialogue is cut out.
Andrew and Matt are cousins but slightly estranged, and when Steve is brought into the circle after they acquire their powers, it’s well-rounded and their friendship seems very real. They’re all easy to like and root for, until Andrew starts to use his powers to harm people and cause destruction. Not only that, but the actors, Jordan, Russell, and DeHaan were relatively new when it came to acting, so these fresh faces were perfect for a film like this.
The Unexplained Hole
The reason why this group got the powers that changed their lives, and ultimately ended two, was because they explored a hole in the middle of the woods that led to an underground cave system. It’s clear as they walk down the hole that Andrew isn’t on board with exploring the hole, but Steve and Matt pull him along, so he can film everything. Once down there, they discover a weird alien-type structure that at first glows bright blue, but once they start touching it, it changes to red.
They black out, seemingly wake up with powers, and when they return to the sight, the hole is completely covered as if it never existed. It’s completely forgotten about until the end of the movie, where Matt makes a promise to find out what happened to them when they were in the hole, and hopefully, the sequel will answer some of these open-ended questions.
The first character that we meet, is Andrew, and he starts the movie off by filming his dad yelling at him and trying to break his bedroom door in. The audience is quickly brought up to speed as Andrew lives in an abusive household, and his dad not only verbally but physically harms him. Andrew’s mom is also very sick and dying, leading viewers to think that the abuse might have started after she became bedridden and left Andrew and his dad mostly on their own.
As the movie progresses, and Steve asks Andrew about his dad, and Andrew shares that his father used to be a firefighter but got hurt on the job and now just collects the insurance. Andrew’s anger comes from his dad’s actions, and ultimately leads to his downfall at the end of the film.
Andrew Kills Steve
The first major death to be shown in Chronicle is Steve’s, and it comes when you least expect it, and the abruptness due to the filming makes it that much more chilling. After Andrew has a breakdown and flies up to be alone in the sky, Steve finds him, concerned for his friend and wanting to know what was going on with him. Andrew lashes out, claiming that Steve was never his friend and that he just wants to be left alone, but when Steve stays, Andrew somehow summons lightning from nearby clouds.
You watch in shock, as Steve is suddenly struck, before the scene immediately cuts to his funeral. If you’re confused as to what happened, Matt confronts Andrew at the funeral and demands to know how lightning struck Steve when there weren’t any lightning strikes reported that night. Meaning that Andrew killed him during that argument, which is chilling and a pivotal point to the film.
The Camera Work
Since this is a found-footage film, the writers and everyone involved in the making of Chronicle did a great job of making it fresh and easy to keep up with; and a lot of that has to do with the camera work. Throughout most of the film, we’re following Andrew and what he decides to record, which is basically almost everything. However, Casey, Matt’s love interest, also films, and when it switches to her point of view, it’s a nice switch-up from Andrew.
Not only that, but when Andrew lands himself in the hospital, we get to see other camera vantage points, such as the gas station and the cameras that fill the hospital. It keeps you interested by switching between multiple points of view instead of keeping it just one person, which often happens in other found-footage films.
The 2012 Cheesiness
Since this was filmed in the 2010s and was released in 2012, there are plenty of elements that come with this film, and one of the points that isn’t a major part, is the cheesiness that comes with a film made in this year. The tropes such as a huge house party in a mansion, Steve running for class president and making it a huge deal, the characters making it a big deal that Andrew is still a virgin in high school. It’s perfect for that year of filming, because it’s what you expect.
Not only that, but the brief scene in which Matt is singing Jessie J’s “Price Tag”, all high-pitched and animated, is very funny and real. They’re a trio of teenagers, and while there are a handful of dark scenes, but there are also plenty of lighthearted ones, such as when they fool around in the store.
The Hospital Scene
Before Andrew goes on his path of destruction through the city of Seattle, he lands himself in the hospital after a failed attempt to rob a gas station. He’s extremely burned and just completely broken, and you can’t help but hold your breath as his father walks in. For a second, you think that maybe his dad has had a breakthrough and cries because he’s regretful of the pain he’s caused his son, but that’s sadly not the case.
His dad reveals that his mom died earlier in the night, and then gets aggressive, as he demands Andrew to sit up and apologize. He calls him names, and just as he’s about to strike an unconscious Andrew, Andrew wakes up and grabs his dad’s arm. It’s a heart-stopping scene that’s unexpected and full of tension that leads up to the biggest scene of the movie, and Dane DeHaan is downright chilling.
When Andrew goes on his rampage and starts to cause so much destruction, you can’t help but wonder how he’s not dead yet, you have to sit through a hard watch as Matt makes the toughest decision. To a point, Andrew is rightfully angry for how he was treated throughout his life, not only by people at school but also his father, and then losing his mom to a sickness.
However, once he got his powers, he definitely should have handled them better and followed Matt’s rules, but there was too much anger and hurt for him to do so. Matt is trying his best to fix the situation, but ultimately has to kill his cousin by driving a giant steel arrow through him. It’s a devastating, but needed ending to Andrew’s story.
The End Scene
The scene that closes out the movie is special and needed after all the action and death that you just witnessed. After Matt kills Andrew and ultimately gets away by flying away from the cops and the crime scene, viewers catch up with him as he’s hiking through snow-covered mountains. At first, it’s not obvious where he is, but when he starts to talk to the camera and addresses Andrew, it’s a somber but perfect ending.
When Matt reveals that he’s in Tibet, and says to Andrew that he made it where he always wanted to go, you can tell that the decision he had to make with killing his cousin was the last thing he wanted to do. He makes a vow to use his powers for good and find out exactly what happened to the three of them down in the hole; ending the film by leaving the camera right there, in Tibet.