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In a year sloshing with superhero movies, a film about a bunch of youngsters with dramatic telekinetic powers sounds rather lame.

movie reviews Updated: Jun 30, 2012 13:16 IST

Chronicle
Excel, Rs. 499
Rating: ****

In a year sloshing with superhero movies, a film about a bunch of youngsters with dramatic telekinetic powers sounds rather lame. But Josh Trank's dark and deceptive 2012 film is a science fiction-disaster movie only in its packaging. It's essentially a psychological horror tale about what happens when two regular bored kids along with a sensitive and disturbed one are armed with unlimited powers that include that of unrestricted destruction.

The home video quality of the film is a well-constructed device hitched on to the fact that we are told at the beginning that Andrew, whose mother is dying from cancer and father is an alcoholic depressive, has decided to record his life on videocam. He is a regular prey for bullies in school and is asocial, the self-imposed videotaping mission and hanging out with his two friends, his cousin Matt and a popular fellow student Steve, being the only social activities he enjoys.

The three of them stumble on to a mysterious underground site after an evening at a rave party and come out of the hole invested with telekinetic powers that they master over the days. Initially, trying out these 'superhuman' powers gives the boys much mirth. But over time, Andrew realises that his powers are his key to making sense of the world and overpowering everyone in it. The frat boy story lurches into a disturbing 'Lord of the Flies' terrain and provides a hyper-real account of persons invested with overwhelming power.

The film, shot through a grungy, post-industrialisation haze — the story is set in Seattle, resurrecting 20 years later the tone and atmosphere of the searing music of Nirvana and the Seattle punk scene — with its amazing, matter-of-fact special effects, is as bold as it is original.

Chronicle is a powerful story told through the quasi-mythological language of superheroes. Except, when hitched to its frank grittiness, ultra-realism and psychological flip-switch, it becomes a film exploring the consequences of a mind, faced with the threat of danger and isolation, going very, very wrong.