Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan) positions his newly acquired video camera on a tripod and faces it at a mirror. He introduces himself to the viewer in an unconfident manner. A pounding fist shakes the door - it's Andrew's father, Richard (Michael Kelly). It's 7:30 am and Richard is already drunk. Andrew mostly ignores his dad, and waits for him to leave. Andrew shows off his new camera to his mother, Karen (Bo Peterson). Karen is deathly ill from cancer; she coughs and smiles as Andrew films her. Andrew's cousin Matt Garetty (Alex Russell) pulls up in his muscle car to drive Andrew to school. Andrew continuously films Matt; it creeps Matt out. Andrew says that he feels comfortable behind the camera and wants to document everything in his life.
The two arrive at school, and Andrew films the hallways as he walks to class. A bully wrestles the camera away from him, calls it a piece of crap, and throws it on the ground before smacking Andrew around. Andrew is approached by multiple students who are rallying for Student Body President Candidate Steve Montgomery (Michael B. Jordan). Andrew takes a flier and heads to the football field. He films the cheerleaders, before being told by the head cheerleader that he's creeping them out. Matt drives Andrew home, and tells Andrew of a senior party happening that night at an abandoned barn out in the boonies. With some prodding by Matt, Andrew agrees to attend.
Andrew and Matt arrive at the party, and Andrew slaloms through the crowd filming the party-goers. He watches as another student, Casey Letter (Ashley Hinshaw) also films the crowd. She spots him and asks if he's filming for his blog too? Andrew says no, and Matt swoops in, taking Casey's attention. Matt nervously flirts with Casey, speaking of philosophy, but is unsuccessful. Andrew comes upon a pretty girl dancing on a table. He continues to film her, until her boyfriend steps in front of the camera and pushes Andrew to the ground, and spits on him. Andrew retreats outside and silently cries in the grass. Steve arrives, looking for Andrew by name. Steve is likable and friendly and tells Andrew that Matt sent for him because they both found something cool in the woods that needs to be filmed. Andrew reluctantly agrees and follows Steve into the woods. The two come to a clearing, and at its center a peculiar hole cuts into the earth. Matt is there, and the three lay on their stomachs and listen to the sounds that echo from the hole in the ground. Steve and Matt impulsively leap into the unknown and Andrew, after much hesitation, follows. Inside, the three navigate a circular tunnel cut straight into the rock. At the end of the tunnel the three reach a cavern, and at its center is a mysterious giant crystal. As the three near the crystal, they can feel gravity slip away. The crystal glows electric blue, and blood pours from Steve's nose. The camera's feed fractures and fizzles, and amidst the sound of commotion, it cuts to black.
A week later, the three have survived their run-in at the cave. Andrew's previous camera was destroyed during the chaos, and he has a new one. He films as Matt & Steve pitch baseballs at one another in physics-bending ways. Steve gets behind the camera as Matt throws a fastball at Andrew's head. Andrew catches it in mid-air, with his mind. He spins it in place. All three are shocked and excited at their newfound powers. Blood pours from Andrew's nose, so he stops. Andrew demonstrates considerably more control over his power than Matt & Steve. While Matt can lift a few lego blocks into the air and spin them in place with considerable effort, Andrew is able to construct entire lego objects with ease. The three return to the cave/hole-in-the-ground, but find it to be caved-in. A cop shows up and tells them to leave before they can investigate it any further.
As Steve drives Andrew home, he begins to ask about Andrew's personal life. Andrew tells him that his dad used to be a firefighter, but he got injured on the job, and now he spends his days collecting insurance, watching TV, and getting drunk while his mom dies from cancer. Andrew walks the rest of the way home, and passes a couple of thuggish looking drug dealers peddling their junk in front of his house. They berate him from afar. Inside, Andrew suffers emotional and physical abuse at the hands of his father, while his mother coughs up blood in the next room.
At school the three find a name for their power: telekinesis - the power to control another object's mass without physical interruption. They theorize that the power is like a muscle. It is weak now, but with exercise, it should grow stronger over time. They playfully use their powers to prank other students: Steve remotely controls a leaf-blower which blows-up the skirts of a trio of school girls standing a few feet away. The three go to a toy store and play keep-away with other shoppers' carts, cause the stuffed animals to appear to come to life, and attempt to pull the gum out of other shoppers' mouths, with disastrous results. The three stand in the parking lot and move an unsuspecting woman's parked car around the parking lot while she shops inside. As the three return home from the store, an aggressive driver tail-gates them in his Bronco. Andrew, seeking to 'prank' the other driver, accidentally sends his truck crashing into a lake. Steve dives into the lake and saves the driver while Matt phones and flags down the police. Andrew nervously paces, insisting that they just leave. Later that night, Steve and Matt grill Andrew about the accident, and insist that they no longer use their powers in public or against living things.
The following day Matt is still angry at Andrew, and won't talk to him as the two drive out to meet Steve. They arrive at an old mill, and despite seeing Steve's car, they don't see Steve. Steve appears, floating twenty feet above the ground. He explains that he's unlocked the power of flight and goads the others into copying his power. Matt is initially unsuccessful, but Andrew picks up flight very quickly. The three, bundled in their warmest clothes, take to the skies. They throw a football back and forth, at 20 thousand feet, and engage in unbelievable aerial acrobatics while they film one another. An airliner suddenly appears, slamming into Steve. Steve plummets toward the ground while Andrew desperately tries to catch him. Andrew is able to catch both Steve and the camera and land safely. Steve comes to and is immensely thankful to Andrew. Matt touches down and the three triumphantly shout "I can fly!" Their noses bleed.
They dream of places where they'll go. Steve says they ought to fly to some place tropical with bikini-clad girls, while Andrew says that his dream destination is Tibet. As their friendship grows, and Andrew comes out of his shell, Steve convinces Andrew to use his newfound power in the high school talent show. Steve loans Andrew a suit and tie, which he proudly shows off to his sickly mother, and then heads off to the show. Matt films the acts of various students while Casey watches. She asks why he's taken such a sudden interest in film-making. Andrew and Steve's act begins. Steve works up the crowd while Andrew nervously takes the stage. Using his power, he pulls off numerous amazing magic tricks which bring the house down. At the after-party Andrew is the VIP. Everybody pats him on the back, gives him something to drink, and a pretty girl invites him to go upstairs with her. Outside, a drunk Matt confesses his true feelings for Casey: he's been stalking her for the past three years. He knows all her likes and dislikes and has been trying to find a way to get close to her. Their moment is interrupted by Andrew's girl. She runs out of the bedroom, with puke in her hair. Inside, Andrew sulks with his pants around his ankles and puke on his jacket. The story spreads quickly and Andrew leaves the party.
At home, Richard demands to know how Andrew has been getting to school every day. Matt hasn't driven him to school in weeks. More so, he demands to know why Andrew would spend $600 for a camera, when they can barely afford medication for his dying mother. Richard throws Andrew to the ground, and savagely beats him. Andrew stops him, grabs him around the neck and throws him against the opposite wall, knocking him out cold. Andrew takes flight, and hovers above the earth, wishing to be alone. Storm clouds gather around him. Steve arrives, bundled in his cold weather gear, and tries to talk to Andrew. Steve explains that he didn't know how he found him. His nose just started to bleed, and he was somehow brought to him. Steve looks at Andrew's bruised face, and asks if his father is responsible for the injuries. Andrew pushes him away, telling him that he isn't his friend and to leave him alone. Steve disagrees and attempts to bring Andrew back down to earth. Andrew loses his composure, lightning clouds form and Steve is struck by lightning. Steve falls to earth.
The school mourns Steve's death, and all gather at his funeral, including Matt and Andrew. Matt asks Andrew if he had anything to do with Steve dying. Andrew ignores Matt's questions and flies away. The next day Andrew roams the halls at school. The same bully as before berates Andrew. He smacks Andrew around and is about to walk away when Andrew stops him. He telekinetically wrestles a trio of teeth out of the bully's mouth, leaving a bloody mess. He retreats to the bathroom and talks to the camera, explaining the cleanest way to pluck a tooth out of somebody's mouth. At home, Andrew looks over the footage on his computer. Matt arrives, still accusing Andrew of killing Steve, and the two nearly come to blows, but Andrew stops him. Matt leaves. Andrew's behavior is borderline sociopathic. Using his power he tears a spider apart limb-from-limb, and crushes a car like a soda can. He refers to himself as an alpha predator.
Karen is getting much worse; her coughing is louder and she's running low on pills. Andrew goes to the pharmacy to refill Karen's prescription. The pharmacist tells Andrew that he can't release the pills unless he can pay the $750 co-pay, which he doesn't have. With no alternatives, Andrew locates Richard's fireman's trunk. He steals Richard's fire-suit and respirator, puts them both on, and walks out to meet the drug dealers who are camped out in front of his house. He tells them to give him their wallets. When they pull their guns on him, Andrew swoops into action, knocking each of them into unconsciousness. He takes the money in their wallets, but falls well short of the needed $750. He walks to a convenience store. Upon entering, he thrusts the clerk into the back-wall, opens his backpack and begins funneling the contents of the cash register into his backpack. With the till empty, Andrew heads outside and is about to take off when the clerk appears brandishing a shotgun. Andrew deflects the clerk's shots into a gas tank. The gas tank explodes, and both Andrew and the clerk lay burning on the ground.
Richard arrives at the emergency room and finds Andrew's room guarded by two cops. They tell him to alert them if Andrew regains consciousness. Richard is extremely bereaved as he sits at Andrew's bedside. He talks to the unconscious Andrew and tells him that he went out looking for him the night before, and while he was out, Karen succumbed to cancer. He blames Andrew for everything, and tells him to wake up and face him like a man. Unbeknownst to Richard, the police camera's tripod slides across the floor. A massive explosion rocks the hospital, and Andrew's room is nothing more than a crater.
Miles away, at a birthday party, Matt's nose bleeds profusely. Other party-goers, including Casey, turn on the TV. All channels are broadcasting footage of the massive explosion in downtown Seattle. Matt asks to borrow Casey's car, and the two drive toward the city. As Casey films, Matt drives around police roadblocks and the two arrive at the hospital, which is engulfed in black smoke. The news cameras watch as a pair of human figures, one carrying the other, float hundreds of feet above the ground. Andrew dangles Richard like a ragdoll, and drops him. Matt, without hesitation, flies up and catches Richard and slowly lowers him to the waiting EMTs below. Matt and Casey jump into her car and attempt to drive away but Andrew, infinitely powerful, lifts their car into the air and sends it flying across the city, and slows it to a stop above the Space Needle. Matt exits the car, with Casey, and Andrew drops it to the ground, where it explodes. Matt takes Casey to safety, and tries to calm Andrew down. Andrew angrily shouts at Matt and asks why he didn't let Richard die and tells Matt that he is an alpha predator. Andrew causes a city bus to suddenly appear and barrel-over Matt. Andrew flies up to a nearby skyscraper and stares at the dozens of on-lookers on one floor, who film him with their cell phone cameras. He shatters the windows, takes control of their cameras and surrounds himself with them. Matt reappears, alive, and manages to get both he and Andrew down to the ground. Andrew lays unconscious while Matt attempts to negotiate with the police. They fire at them both, and Matt takes a bullet to the hand. While Matt nurses his wounded fingers, Andrew gets to his feet and utilizing all his power, sends out a shockwave that forces back the surrounding cops and cruisers, and shatters the glass of all the nearby skyscrapers. Matt, sensing that Andrew is truly unstoppable, telekinetically grabs hold of a spear in the hand of a nearby Indian statue and thrusts it at Andrew, impaling him. Andrew goes limp, and dies. The police and news helicopters approach the scene, while Matt cowers on the ground. At the very last moment Matt gets to his feet and flies straight up, escaping the police.
Through the point of view of Andrew's camera, Matt crosses an ocean, then hills, and snow capped mountains. Matt appears on a snowy mountain. He gives a eulogy for Andrew, telling him that he loved him, and regrets how everything turned out. He pivots the camera, and faces it at a Tibetan ashram built into the mountain: Andrew's ideal vacation spot. Matt leaves the camera facing the ashram and takes off into the sky.
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