tek's rating: ¾

Chronicle (PG-13)
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First I should say I wasn't quite sure where to put this review, but what else is new? I decided to call it "paranormal," which is kind of good, because thus far most if not all of the movies in my "supernatural & paranormal" category have been pretty much on the "supernatural" side. The category could do with a bit more balance. Next I should say that I haven't seen a lot of "found footage" style movies; the only ones that come to mind are "The Blair Witch Project" and "Cloverfield," neither of which I liked. But this... well, it's a bit different. For one thing, there's more than just one source of footage; in fact I'm not entirely sure that every single moment of the film is necessarily on film ostensibly shot within the context of the story, but I suppose it could be. The majority of it is from the perspective of one of three main characters sharing a camera, but there's a fourth character who also has a camera, and then there are the all-pervasive cameras that exist in society, for various reasons.

Anyway... before I saw the movie, I didn't know a lot about it. I knew some teenagers got super powers, but I didn't know the exact nature of those powers, and I kind of thought they'd end up becoming superheroes, but perhaps more realistic ones than in other movies. But the fact is, they never did. But I'm getting ahead of myself. It all starts with this guy named Andrew Detmer. He has an abusive alcoholic father, and his mother is dying, and they can't afford all the medicine she needs. On top of that, pretty much everyone bullies Andrew, who is a shy loner. The first part of the film does a pretty good job of making you feel sorry for him, and making you hate all the assholes around him. His only friend is his cousin, Matt Garetty, who wants to get Andrew to become more sociable. At the start of the film, Andrew has recently bought a camera and begun filming pretty much everything in his life, which only makes him seem weirder to everyone else. Although there is a girl named Casey, who also has a camera, to film things for her blog. She's someone Matt is interested in, and may have a history with, but her character isn't explored in great detail; to an extent, I felt like the character existed largely as a device to explain where some of what we're seeing comes from, assuming the entire movie has to be on in-story film (or digital recordings).

Also, Matt has a friend named Steve Montgomery, a rich and popular guy who is running for class president, I guess. One night Matt drags Andrew to a party, and later that night (after Andrew has been bullied yet again), Steve finds him and takes him out to a spot he and Matt had discovered nearby. There's a mysterious hole in the ground that they want Andrew to film. The three of them end up going down the hole to explore, and discover... something mysterious and strange. Whatever it is messes with the camera, which suddenly stops working. We never see them get out of the underground cave; the movie goes black briefly, and resumes when Andrew begins using a new digital camera, which I guess Steve had bought him to replace the one they lost. We soon learn that the three of them have developed telekinetic powers. (In case you don't know, that means they can move things with their minds.) They can also use this power to basically create force fields around themselves as shields, and a bit later they realize they can use the power to fly, as well. Mostly, though, they use their powers for pranks.

It becomes clear early on that, for whatever reason, Andrew is more adept at using his power than Matt or Steve, though they all grow steadily more powerful as they exercise this new "muscle." They spend a lot of time together, and this is pretty much the first time Andrew has ever had friends. They also find a way to use the power to potentially make Andrew more popular at school. But while all this is going on, Andrew still has problems at home. And... well, his entire life up til now has done things to his mentality that... are not so easily overcome. I don't want to spoil the story by giving away any more details, but things get dark.

And... hmmm. Well, I felt that the movie was interesting, and well-acted, and essentially believable, in terms of how the characters behaved (given the unbelievable circumstances). It's probably the first found footage movie I've seen that I actually liked... but I still don't feel a need to ever watch it again. It had some incredibly cool scenes (but not cool in a "Hollywood" way), and bits of it were amusing. But mostly it was disturbing, and sad, and just... deeply unfortunate. It's a good movie, definitely. Something that was really great to watch once, and I'm glad I did. I can't say I'd never want to watch it again, but... I do feel like it might be kind of hard to watch a second time.


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