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Andrew Detmer

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A lion does not feel guilty when it kills a gazelle. You do not feel guilty when you squash a fly. And I think that means something. I just think that really means something.
~ Andrew Detmer

Andrew Detmer is the main protagonist turned main antagonist of the 2012 found-footage science fiction action drama film Chronicle. A high school student imbued with telekinetic powers, his descent into villainy and destruction is the focus of much of the film.

He was portrayed by Dane DeHaan, who also portrayed the Green Goblin in The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

History

Background

Andrew Detmer was raised in a small middle-to-lower class home in Seattle, where his father worked as a firefighter until an injury forced him into early retirement. Barely able to support the family, Richard Detmer quickly descended into alcoholism - ultimately leading to his frequent physical and emotional abuse of Andrew.

As a child, Andrew was very close with his cousin Matt Garetty, but Matt eventually succumbed to peer pressure and cut ties with Andrew to avoid the social stigmas that had already begun to follow his quiet, withdrawn cousin. By high school, Matt was still willing to drive Andrew to and from school, but their relationship was strained and Matt continued to avoid Andrew in public.

By the start of the film, Andrew is a loner and an outcast, socially isolated and regularly bullied at school, on the streets, and at home. The only person in his life still showing any sort of love or acceptance is his mother, Karen, who is bedridden with stage IV cancer.

The Camera and The Cave

At the beginning of the film, Andrew has bought a cheap camera to document his daily life, intending to use it as a threat to keep his father from abusing him any further; however, it quickly becomes a barrier of sorts between himself and things in his life he can't deal with - including the onslaught of bullies, his violent, alcoholic father, and the pain of witnessing his mother's deteriorating health.

He brings the camera everywhere from home to school and back, allowing the audience an intimate view of his life - beginning with his father nearly punching a hole in his door at seven AM in an attempt to beat him. Over the course of this day-in-life segment, just about every problem in Andrew's world is documented: Matt shrugging him off order to sit in the car, smoke weed, and avoid being seen with him; his peers in school kicking his camera around and trying to make him cry; the pretty girls scoffing at him, refer to him as "creepy"; and several thugs in his neighborhood assaulting him just for getting within earshot. That night, the audience is forced to witness Richard Detmer breaking into Andrew's room and punching his son out of his chair for not opening the door that morning.

One evening, Andrew tags along with Matt to a barn party; as nobody seems interested in socializing with him, he carries on filming - only to be attacked by an angry boyfriend after accidentally filming one of the dancing girls. Outside, Andrew finally breaks down in tears.

Moments later, he meets Steve Montgomery, the school president-to-be and one of the most popular of his fellow students. Steve, after expressing some concern for Andrew, reports that he and Matt have found something out in the woods, and asks him to tag along and film it. It turns out to be hole in the ground emitting unusual vibrations and strange sounds, prompting Matt, Steve, and a reluctant Andrew to investigate further.

In the caverns below, they find a massive, glowing rock covered in transparent crystalline spires, with strange vine-like shapes visible inside. As as they approach and linger in front of the rock, Andrew's camera begins to malfunction, and Steve's nose starts to bleed - before the footage abruptly blacks out.

Newfound Powers and Newfound Friendships

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Andrew and his cousin Matt experimenting with their powers.

Some time later, Andrew switches his camera back on to reveal that all three of them have escaped the cave unharmed. However, their encounter with the rock has imbued them with telekinetic powers: with Andrew's camera documenting, they playfully experiment by throwing and repelling softballs back, building Lego structures to dramatic music themes, skipping rocks in impossible patterns, and testing their capacity for forcefields by attacking each other with forks.

They realize that their powers are like muscle tissue, in that if they exercise it regularly and continue to push themselves, they're capable of becoming stronger. This is proven when the boys gradually to progress from barely being able to levitate softballs to moving an entire car. Being unmotivated teenagers, none of them use their power for anything more than pranks and private amusements - most of which are harmless for the most part. However, after spending the day at a shopping center playing pranks, a truck begins tailgating Matt's car on the way home; annoyed, Andrew uses his powers to push the truck away from them - only to end up knocking it off the road into a lake.

Shocked and horrified, the three race down below to save the driver: after Andrew is prevented from telekinetically pulling the truck out of the water, Steve dives into the lake and rescues the driver - who is fortunately still alive. However, tensions rise further when Andrew tries to dissuade Matt from calling the emergency services, insisting that they should just leave; he seems unable to understand why have to wait for the police to arrive and why Steve and Matt are so upset with him. Relationships somewhat strained, Matt sets ground rules for the trio to avoid another incident: no using the power on living things, no using it when angry, and no using the power in public.

Eventually, the boys become close again: when Steve discovers how to fly via telekinesis, they bond in their attempts to mimic him - until eventually they are capable of travelling at the cruising altitude and speed of the average jet. They spend a happy afternoon hanging around in the clouds, tossing a football back and forth thousands of feet in the air; after Steve is accidentally knocked out of the sky by a passing plane, Andrew is able to rescue him in mid-flight, strengthening their bond further. The three of them discuss flying around the world together, with Andrew wanting to go Tibet for its peaceful scenery.

Steve eventually becomes Andrew's closest friend, becoming one of the few people capable of getting him to open up to his problems at home. In turn, Steve encourages him to become more confident, eventually getting to participate in a talent contest at school - even loaning him some of his clothes to that end: the contest is a success, and thanks to his use of his telekinesis on stage - passed off as magic tricks - Andrew briefly becomes one of the popular kids.

Downfall

Unfortunately, it doesn't last. During the post-contest party, Andrew is approached by Monica - a girl who wouldn't given him a second glance beforehand - and sexually propositioned. Nervous and extremely drunk, Andrew only ends up vomiting in the middle of the act, leaving him once again shamed and publicly humiliated. This roller-coaster of emotions takes its toll on Andrew, gradually driving him to reject his friends and distance himself from reality: he spends hours at home in a daze, telekinetically playing with his camera and pulling the limbs off a spider with a disconnected ease.

Meanwhile, Andrew's mother continues to suffer as her cancer worsens; during one of the worse onsets of pain, while Andrew is looking for Karen's pain medication, Richard finds the camera. Cornering Andrew in the basement, Richards proceeds to emotionally abuse him for his "selfishness," telling him that Steve and Matt were never friends. This escalates to a physical confrontation, wherein Richard overturns furniture, punches Andrew, and slams him to the floor. Andrew snaps and uses his powers to turn the tables on his father, throttling him into submission and throwing him across the room.

Shocked by his loss of control and the extent of his own power, Andrew leaves and flies up into the eye of a storm. Unbeknownst to him, however, a new facet of their powers has just been revealed: when one of the trio uses their powers in a state of extreme emotional distress, the others sense it. Though Matt remains behind, Steve flies out to meet Andrew, trying convince him to return to the ground. An argument breaks out in which Andrew accuses Steve of not really caring for him; all the while, his anger continues escalating - until a lightning bolt strikes Steve, knocking him out of the sky and killing him.

At Steve's funeral, Matt confronts Andrew about what happened, and is shocked and disgusted to realize that he's still filming everything. When Matt tries to force an explanation, Andrew simply flies away. However, he later returns to Steve's grave and breaks down, apologizing - apparently having accidentally driven the lightning that killed Steve.

The Apex Predator

Without Steve's friendship, Andrew's sanity begins to erode: he is consumed by his obsessive desire to enhance his powers, drifting further and further away from reality in the process. Alone in a junkyard, he rants into his camera about Darwinism and Apex Predators, noting how lions don't feel guilty about killing their prey - casually crushing a car in the process. Soon after, Andrew begins unleashing his power in public, using telekinesis to rip several teeth right out bully's mouth. Matt later confronts him about this, nearly leading to a fight until Andrew proves the stronger of the two - though simply demands to be left alone.

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Andrew in his father's firefighter suit.

By now, Andrew's mother is at her lowest point and out of pain medication. Feeling helpless, Andrew goes to the pharmacy in an attempt to plead for new meds, only to be rebuffed with a demand for $700 for next day delivery: furious, he returns home, disguises himself in his father's old firefighting gear, and proceeds to kill the neighborhood thugs for their wallets. Still lacking the necessary money, he continues his crime spree by bursting into a nearby gas station convenience store, knocking out the clerk and stealing everything in the cash register. Unfortunately, the clerk recovers and pulls a gun on Andrew, and though Andrew is able to yank it of his hands, it discharges into one of the gas tanks, leaving Andrew badly burned and unconscious.

Andrew is taken to hospital and treated; recognizing the unusual circumstances behind the crime, the police set up a camera at the foot of his bed before they notify his father. Upon arrival, Richard explains to the seemingly unconscious Andrew that his mother is dead. Grief-stricken and unwilling to let go of his irrational hatred, his father blames him for the fact that he wasn't there for Karen when she died, because he was supposedly looking Andrew — a complete lie, as Andrew filmed his father leaving the house before he put on the firefighter suit. Richard eventually gets angry enough to throw a punch at him, only for Andrew to suddenly awaken and grab his arm in mid-swing. An explosion follows, interpreted by the police and media as a terrorist attack, with tactical units and helicopters arriving within minutes to surround the hospital. Meanwhile, Matt's nose begins to bleed as he senses Andrew's anger: this time, he chooses not to ignore it, and heads to the hospital with his girlfriend frantically tagging along

With the death of his beloved mother, the last vestiges of Andrew's sanity have vanished: heedless of the cameras trained on him, he flies over the hospital and attempts to throw Richard to his death; at the last minute, Matt swoops in just in time to rescue him. Infuriated by this interference, Andrew lets loose on the public, leading to a battle royale between the cousins. Throughout the showdown, Matt tries desperately to calm Andrew down, to no avail: now proclaiming himself an apex predator, Andrew slams a bus into him, tackles him through the ceilings of various buildings, and sends the two of them violently ricocheting off buildings.

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Matt tries to protect Andrew from the police.

However, though Andrew is clearly the stronger of the two, his injuries from the failed robbery and the drugs he was on at the hospital quickly even the odds in Matt's favor. Unfortunately, police interference - combined with Matt's insistence of trying to protect Andrew from being arrest or killed - lead to him getting shot by the cops, then bested by Andrew. After the two of them wind up in a city plaza next to a statue, Andrew unleashes his rage at random, sending cars flying in all directions and shattering windows all over the plaza with a scream of agony.

Realizing that Andrew can't be stopped or reasoned with, Matt makes one last tearful plea for his cousin to surrender - before finally impaling Andrew on the spear of the statue, killing him instantly. Despite his injuries, Matt is able to fly away before the police can reach him.

Death of Andrew Detmer

Matt kills Andrew

Some time later, Matt switches Andrew's camera back on, revealing that he's flown to Tibet. Providing the camera with a view of the temples lining the mountains, Matt apologizes to Andrew; refusing to believe that his cousin was ever a bad person, he promises to help people from now on and find out how the three of them gained their powers. The film closes with Matt leaving the camera trained on the tranquil mountain visit, hoping that Andrew has finally found the peace he'd been searching for.

Relationships

  • Richard Detmer- Andrew's father. A firefighter injured on the job and forced into early retirement after becoming injured on the job; frustrated over his inability to work and provide for his cancer-stricken wife, Richard has degenerated into violent alcoholism, drunkenly taking out his frustration on his son through emotional and physical abuse. Notably, during one scene, Andrew addresses Richard by name, suggesting that he refuses to acknowledge the man as his father.
  • Karen Detmer - Andrew's loving but fatally ill mother. Slowly dying from cancer, Karen spends her last days trying to instill a sense of confidence in Andrew, whom she knows is withdrawn, lonely, and self-defeating, trying to get him to acknowledge the fact that "You're stronger than this." Karen is the only character in the film who unconditionally loves Andrew from the start, and the only character whom Andrew trusts and unconditionally loves in return. Their last scene together features Karen, suffering from labored breathing and chronic pain, being telekinetically helped into a more comfortable position by Andrew, who draws a blanket over her before departing for the pharmacy.
  • Matt Garetty - Andrew's cousin. Although Andrew alleges that they were close as children, they have a very strained relationship from majority of the film, with Matt deliberately avoiding Andrew in public, and later admitting that he hadn't always liked Andrew due to his difficult nature. Despite how cruel and dismissive he may seem, Matt does sincerely care for Andrew, and risks his life to protect him during the climax of the film, eventually dedicating his journey to Tibet for Andrew.
  • Steve Montgomery - Andrew's best friend. Steve is a charismatic, sociable, and good-natured wannabe-politician. He is the only person outside the family to reach out to Andrew, and may be the first friend he's made in several years. Throughout the film, Steve attempts to bring Andrew out of his shell by loaning him nice clothes and convincing him to take part in a school-wide talent contest. Jokingly considering himself a "proud dad" when the attempt is successful, Steve inadvertently puts himself in a big brother-type role that couldn't be filled by Matt. Although Andrew likes Steve, he later confesses during a highly tense outburst that he doesn't believe that Steve would ever have been his friend if it weren't for their shared powers - suggesting that Andrew's abuse at Richard's hands had left him too insecure and untrusting to ever believe it.
  • Casey Letter - A love-interest of his cousin Matt's, Casey has a shared interest in film, and is polite toward Andrew when she encounters him at the barn party. Andrew does not interact with her again throughout the rest of the film, except to nearly kill her when he takes control of her car at the Space Needle.
  • Monica - A pink-haired girl and fellow high school student Andrew meets at the post-talent contest party. She is the closest thing Andrew came to ever having a girlfriend, during which they knew each other for only a few hours, both were intoxicated, and Monica only showed interest due to Andrew's sudden and brief popularity. She would have been his first sexual experience, had Andrew, nervous and heavily inebriated, not vomited on her while they were together. She later mocks Andrew in the hallways, laughing at him with her friends, causing him to snap and attack one of his long-time bullies.

Similar Villains

Note: The following characters whom listed here MUST be confirmed have at least 2 similarities with Andrew (such as being mistreated in his youth, get the revenge on their tormentors, etc.). Simply have one similarities or the said similarities proved to be too vague won't fit (any name of character that added to the list but the character's similarities revealed to be too vague, only one similarities, or completely different would be removed immediately).

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Trivia

  • Over the years, actor Dane DeHaan has become known for portraying many characters that have suffered violent emotional breakdowns, Andrew included.
  • Interestingly, Anna Wood, actress whom portrayed Monica, had relationship with Dane DeHaan whom happened to be actor whom played as Andrew Detmer. Unlike Andrew and Monica in Chronicle film that went wrong however, relationship between Anna and Dane worked well that led to their marriage in June 30, 2012.

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