The whole found footage thing should be done and dusted by now. Nearly 15 years after The Last Broadcast/The Blair Witch Project, and over 30 since Cannibal Holocaust, what was once a quirky way of telling a story has become commonplace.
The REC and Paranormal Activity series, Troll Hunter, Apollo 18 and others have run with the baton with mixed results, and now Chronicle is here to take it in a very different direction.
Teenager Andrew (Dane DeHaan) doesn't have the easiest life. His mum is sick, his dad Richard (Michael Kelly) is a drunk, and his daily life is an endless ritual of misery and humiliation. His only friend is his cousin Matt (Alex Russell), who hangs out with him more out of pity than love.
Armed with a clunky old-school video camera he decides to start recording everything that goes on in his life, to the annoyance of all around - even Matt. So far, so bleak. Everything changes when Andrew is convinced to accompany Matt to a rave at an abandoned warehouse.
After getting yet another physical and emotional slap, a sobbing Andrew is goaded into accompanying his cousin and School President hopeful Steve Montgomery (Michael B Jordan) to investigate a weird freaky hole/underground cave in the nearby woods.
After that, everything goes a little strange. One-part X-Men, three-parts Carrie and a smidgen Peep Show. Amazingly, it works. From the harsh realism of the early scenes to the superhero barminess of the final reels, it just about hangs together.
Where some superhero movies preach that with great power comes great responsibility, Chronicle wonders out loud if wielding great power shouldn't mean that you get to do what you damn well please.
Despite all the footage being "found" - Andrew's video cameras, that of vlogger Casey (Ashley Hinshaw), various CCTV cameras and mobile phones - there's no attempt to pretend that it's been combined in any real sense, which is absolutely fine. It doesn't need that.
Would the story work as a traditionally-shot film? Possibly, but it works better with the self-imposed constraints. The naturalistic performances from the three leads make the fantastic seem possible for a middle portion which could otherwise have spun out of control, and they're definitely helped by the in-your-face reality of the format.
Fans of The Wire and Friday Night Lights will already know all about Jordan, but this could well be his major stepping stone on to the big screen. If he avoids being stereotyped, DeHann is another one to watch. Likewise director Josh Trank, who despite a tricksy collection of ingredients has made an always-engaging, definitely unique debut feature.