Today: April 22, 2024

Chernobyl Diaries

Six tourists,
desperate for a new experience, travel to the long deserted workers town of the
Chernobyl power station for an ‘extreme tour’.
As darkness falls
and they find themselves stranded, the group come under attack from something
that calls this ghost town home.

 

Paranormal
Activity
creator Oren Peli devised the story and produces, he also
worked on the script and is co-written by two of Dick Van Dyke’s
grandsons Carey and Shane Van Dyke. The harrowing real life
Chernobyl disaster in 1986 is used for the backdrop for Bradley Parker’s
directorial debut, a former visual effect artist who worked on high profile
projects such as Fight Club and Let Me In.

 

Traveling across
Europe Chris (Jesse
McCartney
), his girlfriend Natalie (Olivia Taylor Dudley),
and close friend Amanda (Devin Kelley)
stop off in the Ukraine and visit Chris’s brother Paul (Jonathan
Sadowski
). After they celebrate the long awaited reunion, Paul
has the idea to visit an abandoned town close where the Chernobyl disaster took
place.

 

Joined by a tour
guide and a couple of fellow backpackers the merry group go on their way for an
experience they’ll remember for the rest of their lives, which in some cases
will be a matter of minutes. The gang gain access to a military guarded
location with relative ease and even have the audacity to look surprised later
on when mutants show up and start killing them off one by one.

 

On release the
film was met with some negative response from Chernobyl Charities who were
outraged that the tragedy was being used as the basis for a horror movie. The
producers assured the concerned parties that the subject matter would be
handled with care, to their credit they haven’t been disrespectful but the
concept isn’t exactly tasteful given the circumstances.

 

The surroundings
are incredibly atmospheric and could have been the setting for some bone
chilling dread. Unfortunately the
location goes to waste and what could have been something different becomes
generic, and the finale is reduced to lots of shaky camera work, running around
and screaming bloody murder in the dark. All of which would have been
acceptable if the movie was actually frightening but, like many horrors before
it, the set up doesn’t have the pay off to back it up.

 

Proceedings get
off to a bad start early on, the movie adopts the found footage style but it’s
not made entirely clear who is actually filming the supposed footage. The
camera operator is never referenced, never speaks and occasionally films shots
that simply wouldn’t have been possible just to offer exposition.

 

In the same manner
the recently released Lost Episode blurred the lines of what a found footage
movie should be, The Chernobyl Diaries makes the mistake of adopting
this style when it hasn’t been structured that way. The characters seem to make
one poor choice after another and it becomes difficult to root for anybody to
survive. If they’d just stopped and thought about it for a minute, at least
three of them would have walked out alive.

 

Horror is a robust
and tolerant genre but there is only so much the fans are willing to endure,
and half hearted attempts like this only keep the door open to continue making
weakly plotted stories with no scares or originality.

 

Alex Moss Editor

Alex Moss’ obsession with film began the moment he witnessed the Alien burst forth from John Hurt’s stomach. It was perhaps ill-advised to witness this aged 6 but much like the beast within Hurt, he became infected by a parasite called ‘Movies’. Rarely away from his computer or a big screen, as he muses on Cinematic Deities, Alex is “more machine now than man. His mind is twisted and evil”. Email: alex.moss@filmjuice.com

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