When I think of first-person camera movies, I think of Paranormal Activity. When I think of Paranormal Activity, I want to cry because no movie freaked me out more in my life. Other horror films have also gone in this direction including Quarantine and most recently The Devil Inside. As I mentioned earlier Paranormal Activity’s use of a first-person perspective provided horror that terrified audiences around the world. Paranormal Activity’s ability to frighten audiences stems from the true reality created through the first-person lens.
However, Chronicle is not a horror movie. In fact, I don’t even know what they were trying to accomplish with this film.
The movie brings the audience into the miserable life of a teenager, Andrew Detmer, through a camera that he just bought. His mother is dying and his father constantly beats him for no apparent reason. “I’m filming everything now” is the explanation Detmer gives to his father and the audience for buying this camera that made the movie happen. Originally, I thought he bought the camera so he could record what his father does to him, but as the movie progressed it was clear that wasn’t the case.
Detmer ends up going to a party with his cousin, Matt Garetty. At the party, Garetty and his new, popular friend, Steve Montgomery, find a hole in the ground. They want to use Detmer’s camera to record whatever they find at the end of the tunnel.
Detmer reluctantly accepts and the trio finds an alien object that somehow gives them superpowers and nosebleeds. They can move things with their minds and eventually learn how to fly. The trio originally uses their powers to play pranks on people and have fun until Detmer loses his mind because of his horrifying home life.
It seems interesting, but when I saw it on the big screen, Chronicle turned into a disjointed mess. It didn’t feel like a movie. It just felt like a series of clips. The scenes jumped from funny to sad to downright miserable and disturbing.
It even deviated from the first-person camera at certain points of the film. When a first-person camera was used, the movie wasn’t always seen from the perspective of Detmer’s camera. Sometimes the movie utilized whatever camera was closest to the action. Believe it or not, Garetty’s love interest usually always had a camera too…how convenient.
It was painfully obvious that the makers of this movie completely disregarded the audience’s ability to ask the question, “Why is the camera there?” The explanations given were laughable. The writers might as well have said, “The camera is in this scene right now because if there wasn’t there wouldn’t be a movie.”
Detmer never even explains why he bought his camera. The audience is led to believe Detmer bought the camera just because.
I thought the actors put forth a strong performance, but the movie itself didn’t live up to the hype the trailer created.
THE BOTTOM LINE: Chronicle had an interesting concept and an intriguing trailer, but it tried to pack too much into a short movie. As a result, the movie failed.
I’ll give Chronicle 2 out of 5 cups.
As of Feb. 29, Chronicle made a domestic total of approximately $59 million versus a production budget of $12 million, according to Box Office Mojo.
To see the movie trailer for Chronicle, click here.