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Richard Detmer

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Richard Detmer
What did you call me?
~ Richard Detmer

Richard Detmer is the main, later secondary antagonist of Chronicle. He is portrayed by Michael Kelly.

Biography

He is Andrew Detmer's alcoholic father who abuses and bullies him at home. He once worked as a firefighter until an injury forced him into retirement. His wife Karen, is slowly dying from cancer. He is also a clear alcoholic or at least drinks heavily as many beer bottles are strewn about his house and Andrew mentions the his father spends most of his time during the day at bars. It is also implied that he hits Andrew regularly. Later in the middle of the film, Richard berates Andrew because he found out about the party. He calls Andrew a "loser" and that the people he hangs out with were not really his friends. This escalates to a physical confrontation when Richard starts to beat Andrew who uses his powers to overpower him. Karen becomes worse and the family no longer has any money to pay for her medication. Andrew tries to help by using his powers to steal money for her medicine. While robbing a gas station Andrew inadvertently causes an explosion that sets him on fire and puts him in hospital under police investigation.

Richard Detmer with Andrew
At the hospital, Richard was there at his bedside. He upsetly informs the unconscious Andrew that his mother has died and he angrily blames him for her death. As Richard is about to strike him, Andrew awakens and blows out the outer wall of the hospital room. Andrew floats outside the building, carrying Richard. Andrew drops his father in an attempt to kill him, but he is saved by Matt.

It is not known what becomes of Richard afterwards.

Personality

As a result of the accident that forced him to retire, and having his wife slowly dying from cancer, Richard has degenerated into an alcoholic and abusive father for Andrew. He also displayed very loose morals and his character degenerated into full-blown ruthlessness and cruelty as the film went on.

From a certain point of view, however, Richard is mostly a helpless, tragic man who actually wishes that his family's life can be improved (something which, ironically, Andrew wishes to the point where he tries to rob a gas station), but is too despondent to do anything because of his injury that caused him to retire as a fireman. To cope with the pain he blames everything he can on Andrew and puts him down whenever he can. He despised Andrew for seemingly not trying to do something to improve their lives, but equally loved his wife and tried to get away from reality via drinking. He took his frustrations of being unable to work out on Andrew, accusing him of wasting his money on a party and then declaring that he did not have any to spend; he claimed that any money he received went to school for Andrew and medication for Karen, but Andrew angrily pointed out that Richard wouldn't need to pay for public school and called him an idiot (which in some ways is true), resulting in Richard angrily assaulting him.

By the time Richard's abuse of Andrew escalated into physical confrontation, it is apparent that Richard's sanity has gradually deteriorated as the movie goes on. Worse, his sanity slippage culminates to a point where he comes to believe that Andrew must pay for wronging him, which resulted in his near-death experience as seen in the climax, but he refused to see that he himself held a fair amount of blame for their miserable life (Richard became a drunk to avoid his responsibility, whereas Andrew was more determined to improve their lives by working even if his job was illegal). This not only made him worse than Andrew and arguably the true main antagonist of the movie, but also made him rather pathetic compared to his son.

Trivia

  • Although Richard's final fate is left unknown by the end of the film, it is shown that Matt obtained Andrew's camera and is shown filming in Tibet with it. It is possible that Matt looked through Andrew's camera and saw the abuse Richard inflicted on Andrew, and possibly turned it over to local authorities. If that was the case, it is possible that Richard was arrested by the police sometime after Matt's battle with Andrew and used the evidence provided by the camera to convict Richard. If that is the case, then by the time Matt went to Tibet with Andrew's camera, Richard was convicted for child abuse. There were also cameras in the emergency room where Andrew was hospitalized, so Richard's abuse of Andrew would have been exposed anyway. Whatever the case, he now has to live with the fact that he has lost his wife and son.
    • Had Richard not chosen to become the drunkard he has become and started looking for jobs that he was still able to perform in spite of injuries that previously forced him to retire as a firefighter, as well as never abusing Andrew in the first place, it's much more likely that his and his family's life would have eventually improved and he would never have lost his wife and son.
    • In early script of the film however, Richard's comeuppance was disturbing; rather simply have Andrew drop him to his death, Andrew mutilating him into shreds in the same way he dismembered a spider in final film, similar with how Lucy from Elfen Lied dismembered bullies for killing a puppy and forced her to watch.
  • In terms of personality, Richard is similar with David from Animorphs as:
    • Both hypocritically blamed the protagonists to cope with the ordeal that they have gone through in spite of them actually trying their best to made their lives better (Richard loses his job and his wife's deteriorating health made him blame Andrew whilst David believed that Animorphs responsible for his parents' abduction and permanent enslavement by Yeerks).
    • Both try to get away from the miserable reality that they had (Richard wasted his life by drinking while David sought to do anything to get semblance of normal life by murdering a kid in cold blood and took his place).
    • Both also had their sanity deteriorate as the story goes on, culminating to a point where they are willing to kill the protagonists without second thoughts and come to believe that the protagonists must pay for wronging them, which made them rather pathetic.
  • Richard is similar to Steele from Balto: They bully the protagonist out of petty jealousy and spite, and their sanity eventually deteriorates. They survive at the end, but now they have to live with the consequences of their actions.

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