Not exactly covering any new ground and reeking of other films, Chernobyl Diaries is a film about a creepy Russian city near the infamous meltdown. It is not exactly irradiating and certainly no surprises.
Chris (Jesse McCartney), his girlfriend Natalie (Olivia Taylor Dudley), and their mutual friend Amanda (Devin Kelley), are traveling across Europe. They stop in Kiev to visit Chris’s brother, Paul (Jonathan Sadowski), before heading on to Moscow.
Paul suggests that they go on an extreme tour with Uri (Dimitri Diatchenko) and his other customers Zoe (Ingrid Bolso Berdal) and Australian Michael (Nathan Phillips) to the abandoned village of Prypiat, a town near the Chernobyl nuclear power plant meltdown that was evacuated overnight.
They discover that the town isn’t as abandoned as they were led to believe.
Chernobyl Diaries takes our fascination with abandoned, empty places and puts an interesting gloss on it by setting it near the infamous disaster. It also adds a certain European feel that makes us feel even more out of place. Of course no cell phones work and Uri is a one man show who tells no one where they’re going (“I work alone”).
Our heroes also make the mistakes of all horror movie character fodder. They actually ignore the armed soldiers who tell them not to go to the town. Some people seem to want to rush towards their death. They also drop the pretense of a found footage film since we soon switch to handheld video that catches all the action instead of using the gimmick of reassembling the late protagonist’s videos.
Most of the horror action really happens in the dark and we can’t see much. However, the rest of the show is pretty boilerplate. It comes as no surprise that the village isn’t really abandoned (the trailers let you in on that real quick) and that our group of likeable youths are soon to be fodder for whatever is out there. The film was made for $1 million and made $35 million all told, so we can expect more of the same. I just wish it wasn’t so derivative.
Chernobyl Diaries is presented in a 1080p transfer (1.85:1). Special features include a 1 minute infomercial (well more commercial) for Uri’s travel service, a 2 minute “Chernobyl conspiracy viral video, a 1 minute delted scene and a 2 minute alternate ending. You also get a DVD and digital copy.
Chernobyl Diaries really offers nothing new, the horror is pretty sparse and reeks of other plots. The setting is novel but still does nothing for the tired storyline. It may be from the creator of Paranormal Activity but it’s certainly no scarefest.
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