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Scarecrow on Seattle: CHRONICLE

In appreciation and recognition of Seattle's long and illustrious film history, we are proud to partner with the Seattle Office of Film + Music to bring you reviews of movies made in the Pacific Northwest with an emphasis on how these films showcase the region's many filmable locations.

Chronicle (2012)

It feels ridiculous that during this Seattle International Film Festival season, in which there are several great, locally made films playing, I chose to watch this supernatural teen drama that was partially shot in a different hemisphere. Chronicle, directed by Josh Trank and written by Max Landis (John Landis' son), centers around a troubled teen named Andrew (Dane DeHaan). Overwhelmed by his dying mom, abusive dad, and general outcast status, he decides to create a barrier between himself and the cruel world and begins "filming everything." One evening he and the camera begrudgingly attend a rave with his cousin Matt (Alex Russell). Matt and super-popular guy Steve (Michael B. Jordan) get high in the woods behind the warehouse and find a cavernous hole. Steve gets Andrew so they can record what's inside: a glowing, pointy crystal structure reminiscent of the craft that brought Superman to Earth. One high-pitched siren and three mysterious nose bleeds later, all goes black.

When the camera comes back on, three weeks have passed and the young men have acquired a few new levitation skills. It starts innocently-they play catch and eat Pringles hands-free. After a while they get bored and start messing with others, like placing a leaf blower conveniently near a group of ladies wearing skirts. Their powers grow with use, so eventually they learn to fly and play football amongst commercial jet traffic. But the stronger they become, the more their relationship strains. Andrew's mounting troubles and new strength give him a superiority complex, which erupts into a Carrie-esque destructive spree.

Our first good view of Seattle comes as Steve and Andrew share a meaningful chat while perched atop what I'm guessing is the Columbia Tower, with lovely views of our cityscape, Elliott Bay, and Lake Union green-screened around them. The biggest geography blunders come during Andrew and Matt's final showdown, starting at "Ballard Community Hospital." Things get a tad Parallax View when Andrew picks up a car holding Matt and his girlfriend from somewhere around University Street and hurls it north. The vehicle sails past the Darth Vader building on Fourth and ends up on top of the Space Needle. During the ensuing mid-air rumble, Andrew throws a Metro bus (I paused to make out the ad on it for the "Seattle Inquirer") at Matt, and both crash in to a building that could be Fisher Plaza. Matt then gets tossed into a gigantic Sounders billboard beside a branch of Standard Bank. A trip to the Internet revealed that "Standard Bank has a 150-year history in South Africa" and that the movie was primarily filmed in Cape Town and usual suspect Vancouver, B.C. I should know by now that even though the Blu-ray cover prominently features the Space Needle, it doesn't mean the filmmakers did anything more than shoot an hour of background footage here. Chronicle's take on teen angst is interesting at times, but you'll likely be better off seeing a movie at SIFF.

-Spenser Hoyt


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