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Matt: This is the beginning of your downfall. Hubris, right there.
Andrew: What's hubris?

Chronicle is a 2012 found footage sci-fi thriller drama film directed by Josh Trank and written by Max Landis from a story created by them both.

The film focuses on three teenage boys — the frequently abused Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan), his cousin Matt Garetty (Alex Russell) and popular student Steve Montgomery (Michael B. Jordan) — who stumble across a mysterious glowing object in a cave on the outskirts of town. They soon discover that their exposure to the object has granted each of them telekinetic abilities.

As they practice with their abilities, they get stronger with them, and learn to fly and protect themselves from harm. They don't exactly make the instantaneous choice to become heroic pillars of justice, however, and instead use their powers for random pranks and goofing around, as teen boys do.

However, the combination of powers beyond each boy's wildest dreams and long-stewing issues within them proves destructive, and they soon discover that the gifts they have been granted may be drawing out their darker and more dangerous sides...

Following the film's success, a sequel was planned with Landis returning to write, but complications ensued in the years to come that led to a new writer being hired. Trank further admitted in 2020 that he was completely disinterested in making a sequel as well as seeing another director try their hand at one. In August 2021, producer John Davis announced that a sequel was being made; little has been revealed about the film, save that its leads will be women, it will be set 10 years after the original film, and its themes will include fake news and coverups.

Chronicle contains examples of:

  • Abusive Parents: Richard Detmer is extremely physically and emotionally abusive to Andrew, especially in his final scene, where it seems like he might finally show some love and sympathy towards his son, only to blame him completely for his mother's death and make his hatred for him clear.
  • Action Survivor: Matt. Even his special variation of the power all the three boys share is all about surviving sudden attacks.
  • Alas, Poor Villain: Andrew. He does a lot of horrible things in the latter half of the film, but the sheer amount of trauma he suffered beforehand makes his death tragic instead of cathartic.
  • Always a Bigger Fish: This is the point behind Andrew's "Apex Predator" speech. He seems himself as one since he now is more powerful than ordinary humans.
  • Ambiguous Situation: Working from the information in the film, it's unclear whether Steve's death was due to a freak by natural lightning bolt, or if Andrew was somehow responsible—and even if he was, it's not clear if it was killing him in a rage or losing control of his power. Max Landis, however, has clarified that Steve's death was an accident, and that Andrew didn't have lightning powers.
  • Applied Phlebotinum: A Magic Meteor gives the guys their powers.
  • Arc Words: "You're stronger than this." First said by Andrew's mother to reassure him. Given an Ironic Echo at the end, after Andrew goes off the deep end.
  • Being Tortured Makes You Evil: The misfortunes that Andrew goes through in the movie cause him to go off the deep end.
  • Big Man on Campus: Steve is a hyper-popular aspiring politician who receives huge cheers when he takes the stage at the talent show.
  • Bittersweet Ending: Matt kills Andrew before he can cause any more damage, but several people have been killed, including Steve, and we are left with the lingering sense that Andrew's downfall could have been prevented. Also Matt is now alone, injured and implied to be on the run from the government, meaning that he won't be able to return to Seattle and reunite with Casey.
  • Black Dude Dies First: Zig-zagged. While Steve is the first character to die, none of the characters were written with a specific race in mind, and his actor just happens to be black.
  • Bond Breaker: Ultimately, Andrew, for choosing to take his father's Breaking Speech on "they're not your friends" to heart and starts distancing himself from the rest, especially after Steve dies.
  • Bullet Catch: Andrew successfully does this while rampaging through Seattle, catching massed automatic fire from a SWAT team. Then he flings them all back, along with the police cruisers and the officers firing at him.
  • Bullying a Dragon: Throughout most of the film, Andrew's father has no idea Andrew has his new powers. Then Andrew grows a backbone, and calls out his dad on the "wasting money on public school" bullcrap. Andrew's father snaps, and attempts to indulge in some child abuse. Andrew wins. Later, after Andrew is in the hospital, his father attempts to do the exact same thing, the only difference is that he thinks Andrew is unconscious. This goes about as well as you would expect.
  • Cain and Abel: Played with. Andrew and Matt are cousins, not actual brothers, and Andrew is the younger one, but they develop this dynamic in the finale. However, it is the Abel-like Matt who kills his cousin, but does it reluctantly and only as a very last resort.
  • Camera Abuse:
    • Some bullies take Andrew's camera and slide it along the floor.
    • A drink gets spilled on the lens of Andrew's camera at one point.
    • Andrew's first camera gets buried after they discover the underground cave.
    • The camera falls a few times while the boys practice flying.
    • During the climax which was filmed from multiple cameras, many of them end up getting smashed.
  • Calling the Old Man Out: Andrew's constantly in conflict with his Jerkass father, but for the most part he's too browbeaten to seriously call him out... up until Richard accuses Andrew of wasting his money on public school.
    Andrew: You don't pay for public school, you idiot!
  • Capepunk: In this film, when you give superpowers to a moody, troubled teenager like Andrew, he'll turn out less like Peter Parker and more like Carrie White.
  • Car Fu: During the final fight, Andrew hits Matt with a telekinetically thrown bus.
  • Caught on Tape: To be expected. It is implied that Andrew bought the first camera so his alcoholic father won't beat him for fear of this. It doesn't stop him and Andrew never does anything with the footage; worse still, his habit of filming things turns into a neurotic obsession — note the way he starts collecting cameras during his rampage.
  • Celebrity Paradox: In a broader form of this general idea, none of the characters refer to or show any awareness of fictional characters with superpowers, as if that genre simply doesn't exist in the movie universe.
  • Character Development: Matt goes from standing around and telling Steve to be careful when Steve dives into the raging river to save the guy in the car Andrew crashed, to unhesitatingly rescuing Richard when Andrew drops him.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Andrew explains how his father used to be a firefighter. Andrew wears his father's old firefighting gear during a string of robberies, the last of which ends in a fiery explosion at a gas station. The firefighting gear he was wearing also saved his life when the explosion happened. He was literally on fire after the explosion, and the heat-resistant clothing probably reduced the damage he received.
  • Chekhov's Skill: As they experiment with their powers, the boys learn they can create barriers around themselves. Andrew shows this to Matt by stabbing at his hand with a fork. The fork loses. This is the only skill which Matt shows an innate grasp of, and later on, when Andrew catches him with his defenses down and hurls a bus at him, this skill explains his survival.
  • Clashing Cousins: Andrew and Matt have a tense but courteous relationship in the beginning and clash in a more normal way. They end up clashing extremely and tragically after Steve's death.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture: Andrew rips a spider apart for fun and gets back at the kids who bulled him by ripping their teeth out.
  • Colorblind Casting: Steve wasn't specifically written to be black in the script.
  • Cool Kid-and-Loser Friendship: Steve and Andrew, respectively. Steve is the Big Man on Campus, Andrew is one of the pick-up kids, yet they very easily bond together. Notably, Steve was emphatic toward barely-known to him Andrew even before they bonded over their powers. As they discuss the matter (and they tend to do that a lot, due to Andrew's insecurity), Steve notes that Andrew is a cool person to hang with, while their abilities are just a bonus to how much he enjoys spending time together. Big part of the story is how the boys interact and how much Steve tries to help Andrew both open up and stand for himself.
  • Comes Great Responsibility:
    • Double Subverted and Deconstructed. At first, the kids never think of using their powers for the common good, as opposed to shits and giggles. Then, after the incident with the trucker, Matt lays down the rules for the ethical use of superpowers (see Mind over Manners below); the kids still don't use their powers to help people, but at least stop dicking around with them. Then, after Andrew loses his shit, Matt inadvertently becomes a true hero but his motivation is entirely personal; he saves Seattle from destruction at the hands of his cousin.
    • Matt's turn towards heroism is implied to be somewhat influenced by him hanging around Casey and watching her blog—she's implied to be something of a Granola Girl interested in fixing the ills of the world, and he wants to look good in her eyes.
  • Coming of Age Story: Three teenagers. Their daily life. Their daily struggles. And superpowers!
  • Create Your Own Villain: Andrew genuinely seems to love his father and want to make him happy. Richard is dealing with the loss of his job as a firefighter and his wife's terminal cancer, which turns him into an alcoholic with an Irrational Hatred of Andrew that results in Richard’s abusive behavior towards his son and his own comeuppance by Andrew after Richard pushes his now-superpowered son to his limits.
  • Creepy Souvenir: When Andrew attacks his bullies, he winds up creating a collection of teeth. However, when the bell rings, he quickly disposes of them.
  • Death by Irony:
    • Andrew saves Steve's life in the airplane incident... only later to get him killed in the thunderstorm scene.
    • Andrew styles himself an "apex predator". He is impaled with a spear from a statue representing a tribal hunter. Really, he brought it on himself.
  • Deconstruction:
    • Of teens gaining superpowers.
    • Also of super villains, in that the film takes a closer look at what would drive someone to become one.
    • The final battle also does a fantastic one on Hero/Villain battles and shows just how terrifying and destructive one would be in real life. Notably it is clear that the SWAT teams and other police officers seem to view the heroic Matt and villainous Andrew as equally dangerous.
    • At the same time though it's a bit of a Reconstruction. Andrew's development is very similar to classic, Tragic Monster supervillains, with his fall into violence causing Matt's transition into a classic, responsible superhero.
  • Decoy Protagonist: Soon after Andrew snaps, we switch the point of view to Matt. Possibly foreshadowed during Matt's "apology" scene with Casey as recorded by her camera, while Andrew is nowhere around. From then on, we repeatedly see things from Matt's perspective, setting him up as the kid with a conscience. This narratively puts him on a collision course with Andrew.
  • Despair Event Horizon: So, Andrew is now the king of the school, after the "illusions" and "magic tricks" he and Steve did at the talent show. Finally getting some real popularity, he attends a giant party at Steve's house, and ends up going with a girl for "private time." Sadly, between (most likely) nerves and too much alcohol, he loses his lunch. His school image is actually WORSE than it used to be, with fresh fodder for teasing. After some telekinetic dentistry on school bullies, he gets yelled at by his cousin over the abuse of power. He then gets yelled at by his father, who had discovered his camera, who says that the other boys "aren't his friends", and that they were having fun at his expense instead of with him. Despite finally standing up to his father during the fight, that one part sinks in, and is the part that pushes Andrew into full misanthropy. And just in case that wasn't enough, after Murphy's Law seems to have been fulfilled and Andrew is lying in a hospital bed, having likely caused his best friend's and possibly even his mother's deaths... his dad takes this opportunity to berate him. Which turns out to be an unspeakably bad idea. Cue the climax.
  • Don't Make Me Destroy You:
    • Andrew threatens his father: "I could crush you! Do you know that? I could crush you!"
    • Matt to Andrew before killing him: "Don't make me do this!"
  • Drowning My Sorrows: Richard seems to have a shitty enough life for it.
  • Drunk on the Dark Side: Andrew in the final showdown.
  • Even Bad Men Love Their Mamas: Andrew's mother is seemingly the only person he shows affection towards, and, conversely, the only person who seems to truly care for him except for his two friends (whom he ends up believing don't truly care for him at all).
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Richard sincerely loves his wife. Not really all that helpful to her, but still. It's his only redeeming quality that we see.
  • Evil Costume Switch: Andrew's firefighting gear and gas mask make for a nice little makeshift supervillain costume.
  • Evil Sounds Deep: When Andrew goes amok in the climax, he starts yelling a lot and his voice gets deeper.
  • Face–Heel Turn: Andrew, after he beats the living heck out of his father and decides to start robbing people in order to help his mother.
  • Fallen Hero: Richard, as a former firefighter, has presumably saved more than enough lives to be called a hero. The loss of his job and his wife's illness has reduced him to an abusive, alcoholic Lower-Class Lout Jerkass with an Irrational Hatred of his own son Andrew by the time of the film.
  • The Farmer and the Viper: No matter what happens, Steve is a genuinely nice guy who will stay by Andrew's side, and even goes flying in a thunderstorm to try to talk him down after he's been abused again by his dad. This gets him killed.
  • Finger Gun: Andrew uses one to knock out a local gang member.
  • Fingore: Matt gets a bit of one finger blown off when the police fire on him and Andrew.
  • Flying Brick: When the boys master their powers, they come very close to this archetype: they can fly, kick major ass, and resist damage.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • After the talent show, Matt mentions that Andrew's expanding ego and hubris will be his downfall. He says it semi-jokingly, but it's from that point on that things start going downhill.
    • During the toy store scene, Andrew holds a red lightsaber like the one used by Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader. Also, evidently, a Shout-Out. Andrew has a helmeted knight with a red sword taped to his wall, another apparent reference.
    • During the Lego scene, Andrew builds a model of the Seattle Space Needle, the location of the climax. Contrary to the end of that scene, though, the Needle survives.
    • At the rave, Andrew says that he doesn't drink. This causes him to vomit at the party when he has too much to drink.
  • Found Footage Films: The film uses cameras from a variety of sources.
  • Four-Temperament Ensemble: Andrew is melancholic (introverted and very, very insecure); Steve is sanguine (incredibly outgoing and generally a Nice Guy); Matt is phlegmatic (indifferent to Andrew and people-oriented) but becomes more choleric as the story progresses (more passionate but deeply troubled about Andrew and his powers).
  • Freudian Trio: Andrew is The Id, friendly everyman Steve is The Ego. The Superego is Matt, who outlines the rules and morals the group has to play by, quotes philosophy and calls people out on their shit. After Steve is dead there is no longer that buffer between Matt and Andrew so the two extremes are pitted against one another.
  • From Nobody to Nightmare: The film chronicles this for Andrew himself.
  • Funeral Cut: The film cuts to a funeral to establish Steve's death after being struck in the thunderstorm.
  • Genre-Busting: Teen Drama, Kitchen Sink Drama, Coming of Age, and Super Power action.
  • A God Am I: Downplayed, but not by much, as Andrew's self-comparison to a natural apex predator is all the justification he needs to start using his powers to openly victimize those weaker than him. His Ironic Echo during the climax further lampshades this.
  • Gut Punch: Steve's death is the point from which the film takes a direct turn into tragedy.
  • Healthcare Motivation: Andrew beats up some thugs and steals money from a convenience store to pay for his mother's pills.
  • Hope Spot:
    • Matt's recording at the party epitomizes the sense that Andrew's life might start improving. Tragically, it's all downhill from there.
    • Why Richard, do you finally seem to care about your son when he's in a coma? Oh, you don't, you're just here to heap some more abuse on the pile.
  • How Do I Shot Web?: A good deal of the second act involves the trio learning how to use their telekinetic powers, as well as their application.
  • Ho Yay: In-Universe. The immediate and newfound closeness between Steve and Andrew faces joking insinuations from Matt, especially when they hold hands in the air when Andrew learns to fly. Steve's incredible comfort with physical contact and affectionate nature doesn't help the matter.
  • I Did What I Had to Do: Matt says this word for word after killing Andrew. Foreshadowed when Andrew himself dismisses Matt with a "You do what you have to do" when the latter is threatening to stop him from abusing his powers.
  • Idiot Ball: Andrew gets one at the Apex Predator speech. Also, qualifies when he forgets that sending a man driving down a ravine is likely going to cause some major injuries.
  • Impaled with Extreme Prejudice: The final fate of Andrew to stop his rampage.
  • Implacable Man: At the end, Andrew is burned, thrown into the sidewalk at high velocity multiple times, collides with a streetlamp, falls onto a car, and keeps on going.
  • Insane Troll Logic: Richard wordlessly barges into Andrew's room and slaps him out of his seat in his first onscreen scene. He rationalizes it by screaming that Andrew should "open the door when I say so". This goes to demonstrate how Richard's drinking problem has rendered him increasingly detached from reality, and it foreshadows what he says to Andrew during the hospital scene.
  • In-Universe Camera: Used consistently throughout the movie. Editing is achieved by jumping from camera to camera, including security cameras and cellphones. Also, even though the cameras are in universe, they are still able to film sections of it like a typical third person movie by having Andrew use his powers to levitate various cameras around. It's implied that Andrew starts doing this unconsciously. Towards the end, he steals all the cameras and smartphones from every bystander in the Space Needle, for no real purpose other than to perhaps clinically document his rampage. He then seems to do the same thing with the cops, taking their dashboard and helmet cameras. Matt foreshadows/lampshades this early on when he says that the camera is like a barrier between Andrew and the world. Andrew's reply? "Maybe I want a barrier."
  • Ironic Echo: "I'm stronger than this". Stated initially by Andrew in reference to the hardship he's going through in life. Repeated again when he goes on his rampage, with his new 'apex predator' philosophy.
  • It Began with a Twist of Fate: Three teenagers accidentally get superpowers just because they decide to check out a weird-looking cavern. The source of their superpowers is never even explained.
  • Jerkass: It doesn't take much to realize that Andrew's father, Richard, is simply using his son as an outlet for venting his stress and passing blame for his family's financial issues from himself. He even calls Andrew selfish for keeping an expensive camera (that was a gift from his cousin) from him (after said camera caught him searching through his son's room, clearly looking for money). True, he does care deeply for his wife and wants to help get her the treatment she needs, but that raises the question as to why he can't stop spending money on alcohol rather than blaming everything on his son. The fact that when we first hear his voice he's established to be a belligerent alcoholic that is essentially responsible for Andrew's instability doesn't help either.
    Richard: You're hoarding a five-hundred dollar camera from me while your mother is dying and every penny of mine goes to your school!
    Andrew: You don't pay for public school, you idiot!
  • Jerk with a Heart of Jerk: When Richard comes to see an injured Andrew in the hospital, he starts crying by his bedside. Seems like he actually feels bad about what happened to his son. We then find out he's crying because Andrew's mom died, and proceeds to blame Andrew for it.
  • Jitter Cam: Played straight for the first parts of the movie, but later averted due to Andrew keeping the camera steady and constantly running using his powers.
  • Jumping Off the Slippery Slope: Andrew is a troubled, misunderstood kid with a terminally ill mother and an abusive drunk for a father. Over the course of the movie, his life steadily gets even worse, and he begins lashing out with his powers. It all culminates with the death of his mother, and his father blaming him for it, at which point he completely snaps and goes on a rampage.
  • Just Hit Him: Andrew would have succeeded in killing his abusive father had he just done a telekinetic dismemberment or such rather than drop him from a great height, which allowed Matt to save the man.
  • Karma Houdini: Richard. Even the death of his wife and his son doesn't cover the sheer volume of bad karma he had accumulated. Though his last act of abuse against a hospitalized Andrew is seen and heard from the camera the police placed in Andrew's room. Given that said abuse triggers the rampage that lays waste to Seattle, the police may have a few questions for Richard about it.
  • Kick the Dog:
    • Andrew has a lot of moments where it counts — when he didn't think it was wrong to veer a car off the road; after he accidentally killed Steve; when he videotaped Steve's funeral; when he tears a spider limb-from-limb for no reason; and when he gives that Apex Predator speech ("A lion doesn't feel guilty when it eats a gazelle").
    • Richard seems like he's finally about to show some emotions about Andrew's mom's death when he starts breaking down. Instead, he tells the grief-stricken Andrew that it's his fault and he can't do anything right.
  • Kick the Morality Pet: Andrew gets Steve killed during an angry lashout. He never recovers from the downward spiral this event started.
  • Kid Hero: Subverted with Steve, deconstructed with Matt. Rather than using their powers to help people, the boys just use them to screw around and have fun. Steve is the only heroic character initially, diving in to save the trucker, and being nice to Andrew from the beginning. Matt starts out as just a bit of a jerk, but becomes an even greater hero through Character Development and is ultimately the only one to survive.
  • Lack of Empathy: While pushing that truck off the road is Andrew's first major Kick the Dog moment, the first sign that something is very wrong with him is the fact that he doesn't understand why Matt and Steve are mad at him for it.
  • Leave Me Alone!: Delivered by Andrew, right before he blows the police surrounding him away.
  • Loners Are Freaks: More than a little implied with Andrew, especially before the incident that gave him powers.
  • Loser Friend Puzzles Outsiders: Steve's girlfriend has this reaction toward him suddenly spending so much time with Matt and Andrew, respectively a known pot-head and a favourite chew toy of local bullies. As Steve puts it himself, he enjoys how cool their company is and how much they can enjoy themselves together, despite their obvious differences.
  • Madden Into Misanthropy: Andrew, and not in the funny Comedic Sociopathy kind of way. By the end of the film he gleefully kills people left and right just because he can.
  • Messianic Archetype: Steve comes the closest out of the three. He's also notably the first one to learn to fly.
  • Mind over Manners: Matt tries to establish rules for the safe and ethical use of their powers after their telekinesis gets so strong that Andrew almost kills a redneck trucker. By the third act, Andrew has broken all of them.
    1. Don't use your powers on living things.
    2. Don't use your powers when angry.
    3. Don't use your powers in public.
  • Mirror Character: Richard and Andrew. Both are immature who care deeply for the same woman. Both of them are struggling with depression and massive inferiority complexes. Neither show mercy towards those they deem deserving of punishment. One could even reason that Andrew's telekinesis and constant filming become as much of an addiction for him as alcohol is for his father. However both are still very different from each other.
  • Mood Whiplash: The boys' usage of their powers goes from playful to tragic in quite a few scenes.
  • Mugging the Monster: Picking on a kid with telekinetic powers ends as well as expected. The fact that Andrew begins to retaliate in this manner is the first sign of his growing instability.
  • Mundane Utility: All over the place, including Steve floating food to his mouth, Andrew doing magic tricks, Andrew operating his camera telekinetically (even as Matt and Steve keep on using their hands for this,) and Andrew moving puddles out of his path. There's even a deleted scene here that shows Matt telekinetically stirring his milkshake.
  • Never My Fault:
    • Richard blames Andrew for the fact that his wife and Andrew's mother dies from not receiving her medication. In truth, Andrew had attempted to go and get the medication from the pharmacy, but did not have the funds for it, as Richard had been wasting the money on alcohol. Richard's inability to accept responsibility for this is the final catalyst for Andrew's rampage, starting with Andrew attempting to kill him while pointing out his constant abuse made him this way to begin with.
    • Andrew himself. He has very hard time taking any sort of responsibility or facing consequences of his actions. Just recall his entire reaction after the trucker scene and how he would rather bail the place, rather than call police and report the accident. And it only goes worse from there... Except maybe when he ends up killing Steve by accident, and getting fed up with Richard for the above.
  • Nice Guy: Despite his early mischief, Steve is the one genuinely affable character in the film, from start to finish.
  • Nigh-Invulnerability: The boys learn to create a telekinetic "barrier" around themselves, protecting them from physical attack. Emphasis on the "nigh" in this case; all three are injured at one point or another in the movie by things they didn't see coming.
  • No One Could Survive That!: Deconstructed. The boys' telekinetic barriers don't make them invincible, and failure to put them up fast enough gets all three in trouble at various points of the movie. The final fight between Matt and Andrew, in particular, sees them getting thrown through buildings. While it's far more punishment than a normal human being can take, they both end up bruised, beaten and bloody by the end. Also, Andrew dies when Matt impales him with a spear because Andrew was so angry that he didn't see the spear coming.
  • Not the Fall That Kills You…:
    • During one of their early stunts, the boys completely lose control of their flight, until Andrew manages to steady up juuust in time to catch the rest of the pack and land safely.
    • Averted when Matt noticeably uses his telekinesis to halt the falling Richard before catching him.
  • Not Using the "Z" Word: The boys never compare themselves to, say, Peter Parker or the Fantastic Four, and no one uses the words "superpower" or "superhero", as if comic books simply don't exist in this universe. Considering the boys have to look up "telekinesis" in the dictionary before they can put a name on "the thing we can do where we move stuff with our minds", this could be the case.
  • Not Wearing Tights: See directly above.
  • Not What It Looks Like: Near the beginning of the film, Andrew has his camera out while eating lunch and it is pointed at the cheerleaders while they are practicing. One of the cheerleaders comes to Andrew and tells him not to videotape them because it is creepy. Andrew's reaction is all but saying this trope.
    • A few scenes later, Andrew is filming at the party and the camera is on a hot girl dancing. The girl's boyfriend comes over and gets angry that Andrew seems to be filming his girlfriend. Andrew tries to reply that he wasn't filming her.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Andrew's modus operandi before Jumping Off the Slippery Slope. Specifically: when Andrew beats up his abusive father, when he tears Wayne the bully's teeth out, takes his revenge on the hoodlums, and when he tries to kill his father by dropping him from high in the air.
  • Person of Mass Destruction: In the final act, Andrew becomes so powerful that he can lay waste to a metropolis if left unchecked.
  • Personality Powers: The guys all have the same powers, but each of them is proficient in one specific usage of them. Steve, the free spirit, is the first one to figure out flight. Andrew, the abused kid with tons of pent-up anger, is best at moving and controlling stuff. Matt, who is the most cautious about the use of his powers, develops his telekinesis more slowly than the others, but also excels at using it defensively.
  • Poor Communication Kills: In the climax, Matt tries to approach Andrew, who lashes out at him asking why he saved his father, who he was trying to drop from a building, without telling Matt his reason for doing so. Matt is clearly confused by this question, implying he wasn't aware of the abuse Andrew was going through at home. To him, it seems Andrew has simply lost his mind and is attacking Seattle for no apparent reason. Though another way to look at it is that if Matt was aware to some extent, Andrew wouldn't understand why he would save him anyway.
  • Power Perversion Potential: It's teen goofs with superpowers. The preview hangs a lampshade on it.
    • At one point, they turn on a leaf blower to blow some girls' skirts up.
    • Steven implies that he uses his power to "vibrate" his girlfriend.
  • The Precarious Ledge: The boys entertain themselves by sitting on extremely high ledges without fear. This is on purpose, of course, as the boys' powers have made them feel fearless. Which comes back to bite them...
  • Protagonist Journey to Villain: This is Andrew's story throughout the film.
  • Psychic Powers: Telekinesis, which is a very broad-range superpower for the creative.
  • Psychic Nosebleed: The boys get this when they overuse their powers. They also apparently get it when one of the others is using an exorbitant amount of power, particularly in a fit of rage.
  • Psychopathic Man Child: This is what Andrew becomes by the end.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: Type 2. Despite having magic powers that far exceed anything that could be done with a trick and a good imagination for them, Andrew is so put upon he doesn't try to use his powers for more than other solutions. It would be a different movie if he chose to get media attention for the "fame and money" angle rather than "talent shows and fun."
  • Repeat Cut: Matt killing Andrew is shown from two different camera angles back-to-back.
  • Required Secondary Powers: As the boys quickly find out, flying in the high altitudes is freezing. Since they don't have any power to deal with that, whenever they go flying, they put on winter, wind-proof clothing.
  • Riddle for the Ages: Where did that crystal come from? Why did it give the boys telekinesis? What were Matt and Steve doing in the woods that caused them to find the hole?
  • Roaring Rampage of Revenge: By Andrew.
  • Sacrificial Lion: Unfortunately, Steve, who gets killed while trying to calm Andrew down. His death is the final nail for Andrew descending into open misantropy and his eventual rampage.
  • Same Language Dub: Several of the more minor roles, like Karen or Samantha, were re-dubbed with US voice talent for the final product.
  • Sanity Slippage: Andrew definitely.
  • Satellite Love Interest: Casey is notable in that being a Satellite Love Interest was a cover for her actual role in the film; to provide another camera for the film's Found Footage style. Ironically, she clearly has more depth than he does near the start, and they seem to have some offscreen development of their relationship.
  • Save the Villain: In the climax, Matt arrives on the scene just in time to save Richard from being dropped to his doom by Andrew. Richard's abuse on Andrew, from his smacking Andrew at the tiniest perceived slight to his telling Andrew that Matt and Steve weren't really his friends right up to the moment that led to his current situation, was what ultimately caused Andrew to snap and go into full-on villain-mode. Matt wanted to save Andrew as well, begging the authorities not to hurt either of them, ultimately having no other options left for stopping Andrew's final attack.
  • Secret Identity: Subverted. Andrew goes out to rob the neighborhood thugs dressed in his father's old fire-fighting gear with face-concealing mask. They recognize him instantly by his voice and his distinctive backpack.
  • Self-Made Orphan: Subverted. Andrew almost succeeds in killing his father, but, as he falls from a great height, he is rescued by Matt.
  • Sequel Hook: There are subtle hints that the government is not unaware of the source of the boys' powers, and Matt promises to "find out what happened." Also somebody had to collect all that footage and splice it together. Who else do you think would have gone to all the trouble to dig up Andrew's first camera, that got buried with the meteorite/artifact?. A sequel has been confirmed as being in the works. Unfortunately, neither Josh Trank nor Max Landis will be involved with the sequel, as Fox wasn't happy with Max's script he had made for it.
  • Sex as Rite-of-Passage: It's discussed by the boys and ultimately subverted, when their entire ploy to get Andrew laid ends up as a complete disaster.
  • The Shangri-La: Invoked by Andrew, who clearly considers real-life Tibet to be just like in the Lost Horizon.
  • Shoo Out the Clowns: Steve is the most consistently easy-going and friendly character in the movie, who is also the most laid-back about his powers. Interestingly, it is with his death that things go seriously down-hill and Andrew's descent into madness begins in earnest.
  • Shoot the Dog: Literally in the original script by none other than Andrew.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The movie contains extensive nods to AKIRA; for just a few examples, it has an unhinged, villainous, superpowered teenage boy wearing a hospital gown in the third act and a climax full of Say My Name.
    • "The Baseball Test", an experiment the boys do with their powers, smacks of Jackass. The found footage style certainly helps.
    • Matt wears a T-shirt featuring the logo of the starship Nostromo.
    • When Steve rescues the trucker in the first truly heroic act in the movie, his wet blue sweatshirt makes him look an awful lot like Superman (or Human Torch).
    • The strange object that gave them powers looks straight out of the planet Krypton.
    • Steve reads aloud the definition of 'telekinesis', much like Carrie does.
  • The Social Darwinist: Andrew develops this mindset after Steve dies. His "Apex Predator" speech makes it clear how much he succumbed to considering himself above everything and everyone.
  • Sole Survivor: Of the three boys, Matt is the only one alive by the end of the film.
  • Stalking is Love: When Matt confesses to stalking Casey, she is definitely more turned on than creeped out. It's somewhat lampshaded when Matt chuckles and admits he shouldn't have used the word 'stalking'. More likely it was his own awkward way of admitting to having a crush on her.
  • The Stoner: Matt. Though we never see him smoke on camera, he is high in numerous scenes, and is called out on it by Andrew.
  • Super Hero: An arguable example, to say the least. The question of whether Chronicle is a superhero movie or not is highly debatable. Despite the word "superhero" or "superpowers" never being mentioned, the way the boys gain their power is heavily reminiscent of Marvel Comics classics (particularly Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four), and the further dynamic of the film, particularly the third act, cements this impression. On the other hand, writer Max Landis has appeared a bit disconcerted by the label being applied, stating that, by the standards applied to Chronicle, Carrie and Firestarter would be considered superhero movies if they came out today.
  • Super Hero Origin: By the end of the film, Matt has experienced a My Greatest Failure (having to kill his cousin in order to save a lot of other people's lives), is motivated by that experience to learn more about the origin and nature of his powers, and is in Tibet, which is basically Memetic Dagobah for budding superheroes.
  • Superpower Lottery: Played with. All of the boys get identical powers (very broadly implemented telekinesis), but their degrees of mastery vary.
  • Super Supremacist: Andrew and two of his friends gain superpowers from an alien Eldritch Abomination. Due to several tragedies in his life, Andrew's sanity slowly degrades over the course of the film and he starts espousing social darwinist ideas by calling himself an "apex predator", and later goes on a rampage against Muggles.
  • Tagline: "Not all heroes are super.", "It's all fun and games until everybody gets hurt.", "What are you capable of?", and of course the page image "Boys will be boys."
  • Team Dad: Matt, who's very stern with Andrew and always calls him out on the things that he does later on in the movie.
  • Team Mom: Steve, who's a lot more sympathetic toward Andrew and pretty much The Heart of the trio before he dies.
  • Teens Are Monsters: At first, some teens are shown to be bullies, hoodlums, or simply inconsiderate assholes, but all of this is within normal limits. Then, Andrew loses his shit, and this trope is set loose.
  • The Tooth Hurts: A bully gets a few teeth telekinetically ripped out. Shortly after it happens, the audience is treated to a detailed explanation of how it was done, up to and including a mention about how two of the teeth were accidentally broken in half when they came out.
  • Too Dumb to Live:
    • Andrew during his Sanity Slippage telekinetically slams a clerk against the wall before robbing him of his cash. Despite this demonstration of supernatural abilities, the clerk rushes out at Andrew with a shotgun in tow. This doesn't end well for him.
    • Richard, thinking Andrew is incapacitated beyond being able to retaliate, attempts to perform a little Kick the Dog action on his son while he's seemingly barely conscious in a hospital bed. It doesn't go so well for him, either. Mind you, even if Richard had been successful, there was a friggin' camera right there in Andrew's room that was being monitored by the cops and recording the whole interaction.
  • Tragedy: An excellent example of a modern tragedy. Lampshaded by Matt's comment about "hubris".
  • Trailers Always Spoil: The entire second half of the trailer does all it can to give away Andrew's Face–Heel Turn, which doesn't really set in until more than halfway through the movie. This proves Tropes Are Not Bad, though, as knowing what's coming generates a definite sense of dread.
  • Unstoppable Rage: Andrew can't be stopped by almost anything in the end, with police being reduced to mere spectators of his rampage and Matt barely keeping up with defending himself from all the incoming blows.
  • Villain Has a Point:
    • Richard, while being an abusive drunk and a joke of a father, still makes a point about Andrew having a costly camera in his room while his mother is dying without proper medication. Andrew doesn't counter that the reason he got the camera was to record his father's abuse.
    • In the climax, Andrew may now be completely unhinged and is about to drop his father to his death from the hospital bulding, but he still manages to throw this trope back at him by essentially saying that it was his constant abuse that indirectly led to many of the movie's events, and had ultimately drove him off the deep end.
  • Villain Protagonist: Sure, Andrew becomes a homicidal maniac with a God complex, but that doesn't stop the focus on him.
  • Vomit Discretion Shot: When Andrew pukes for the first time, we don't see the process, although we do see the icky aftermath. When he does it again near the end of the movie, it is pretty much a Vomit Indiscretion Shot.
  • Well-Intentioned Extremist: Andrew murders and robs four bullies and holds up a store so he can get enough money to pay for his mom's medicine.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Casey vanishes from the film after Matt rescues her from Andrew.
  • What the Hell, Hero?: Matt keeps calling Andrew out on every major Kick the Dog moment he does, from the time he veered a car off the road (and didn't think it was wrong), to accidentally arguably killing Steve and bringing his camera to the funeral.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Perks: Could possibly be The Movie of the trope. After three high-school guys are given telekinetic powers by a mysterious artifact hidden at the bottom of a crater, they mainly use their new-found abilities to waste time in increasingly spectacular ways, from playing pranks on customers at a department store, to playing football several thousand feet off the ground. Unfortunately, a very nasty combination of an abusive parent and bullying at school eventually turns one of them into a supervillain.
  • With Great Power Comes Great Insanity:
    • In the end, Andrew is a rampaging lunatic with his powers and Matt has no choice but to kill him to stop him.
    • Inverted with Matt, who starts out as a pseudo-philosopher pothead, but ultimately becomes a better and more responsible person after gaining power.
  • Woobie, Destroyer of Worlds: Andrew at the end.
  • Worf Had the Flu: Andrew is the strongest out of the three boys, but failed to take out Matt in the climax — even though it should have been pretty easy considering the level of control he has over his powers — and was easily killed by him instead. The fact that he only recently emerged from a coma, was suffering from severe burn wounds and probably also heavily doped up on painkillers on top of being so filled with anger that he wasn't clearly focusing his powers to their fullest extent likely affected his performance.
  • Worst Aid: In the climax, Matt successfully lands a hit on Andrew, and sends him falling into a lamppost, a car door, and finally the sidewalk. Despite a high probability of injury to Andrew's spine, Matt starts attempting to drag him away before the cops show up.
  • Yank the Dog's Chain: After the talent show, Andrew's popularity with his schoolmates skyrockets. Yet, he royally screws this up and become even more of a laughing stock in the same night.
  • You Are Not Alone: Both Steve and Matt try to invoke this with Andrew (with the latter even using it word for word); unfortunately, Andrew is too far past the Despair Event Horizon for it to work.


Video Example(s):


"Hey, Wayne!"

Angry at being taunted by a fellow student, Andrew Detmer retaliates by telekinetically ripping three of Wayne's teeth out - and showing them off to his camera.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (6 votes)

Example of:

Main / TheToothHurts

Media sources: