I don’t know about you, but if a movie is shot in South Africa I can tell. Within five seconds of a Volvo ad screening on TV, I can detect Chapman’s Peak or the Karoo or a shot in Cape Town central – no matter how hard they try to disguise it. So blow me down (and away) if one of 2011’s blockbusters (and one of my favorite movies), Chronicle, wasn’t shot in South Africa and I didn’t even smell a rat or fynbos or the salty spray of the Atlantic at Clifton for one milisecond. Even if you check out the photo to the left, try and see Cape Town in there somewhere. As one American critic noted, director Josh Trank did an amazing job with the movie, not least of all in transforming South Africa into Seattle.
The story in Chronicle is a simple one. Three high-school kids discover a hole in the ground that seems to have been made by a meteorite, go into the hole, and then, zap!, something happens to them. They all inexplicably develop telekinetic powers – they can do fun things like move cars by pointing their fingers and they can fly – and plenty other things an 18-year-old could have fun (and get into trouble) with. But all of a sudden, of course, things start to go wrong in a bad way. It’s a very smart movie, written by Max Landis (whose father, John, made movies like American Werewolf in London) that has you guessing all the time. And I don’t mean just the location.