After stumbling upon a strange energy source in an underground tunnel, three Seattle teens - bullied loner Andrew (Dane Dehaan), his cousin Matt (Alex Russell) and class president Steven (The Wire's Michael B Jordan) - suddenly find themselves with superhuman powers. But it's not long before the fun and games get seriously out of control. With events filmed almost entirely by the characters (hence the title), first-time director Josh Trank and co-writer Max Landis (son of American Werewolf creator John) defy budget and genre conventions with a Cloverfield-style storm of murky morals and super-impressive effects.
Michael B Jordan
As a wise man once said: "with great power comes great responsibility".
Alas, the super-amped trio of Chronicle are too busy having a blast with their new telekinetic powers to heed the words of an old fart like Spider-Man's Uncle Ben. Not until it's too late anyway.
Yet while the comic-book and sci-fi influences are obvious, theirs is a refreshingly unpredictable adventure.
It begins where Cloverfield meets Superman as camera-obsessed Andrew (Dehaan, cornering the market in troubled teens after his acclaimed turn in HBO's In Treatment) follows his cool cousin Matt (Russell) and even cooler classmate Steven (Jordan, another HBO find from Friday Night Lights and The Wire) into a hole in the woods outside Seattle.
See, the guys now have telekinetic powers. However, until they master their newfound skills, they're happy to limit their fun to freaking out kiddies in toy stores, messing with shoppers' cars and exposing cheerleaders' knickers.
Then their powers really take off. Which is when people start to get hurt - and that's not counting their own nosebleeds. So, do they control the power or does the power control them?
Matt and Steven can see that ground rules are needed. But, after years of abuse at school and from a father (The Adjustment Bureau's Michael Kelly) who stays drunk while his terminally ill mother fades away, moody Andrew can finally let his rage rip.
Wittily intercutting the boys' first-hand recordings with footage from a Lois Lane-ish video-blogger (Ashley Hinshaw) and numerous convenient CCTV cameras, director Trank and co-writer Landis just about pass the fiction-as-reportage credibility test.
That said, it's very much a case of never mind the cause, feel the consequence. Accelerating to bullet speed, no time is wasted explaining the origins of the pod, the hinted-at cover-up, or why similarly forceful encounters have different degrees of lethality.
But while ignoring some questions, the pared-down story throws up several moral conundrums that dare to make a villain of its hero.
Even more impressive are the special effects which not only blend in splendidly but are more exhilarating than anything you'll find in a hundred Michael Bay dreck-taculars. And at about a hundredth of the cost.
Give these guys more power and more responsibility.