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Chernobyl Diaries

A movie directed by Bradley Parker

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What Lies Behind the Remains of the Chernobyl Disaster?

  • May 26, 2012
I am certain that most of us remember the Chernobyl disaster which occurred in 1986. It was a tragedy of epic proportions that up to this day, the area is still declared as uninhabitable. Well, I am also certain that most of us also know that Oren Peli made a killing with his “Paranormal Activity” franchise which may have opened the doors for him to make any movie he wanted. He co-produced “Insidious” and the TV series “The River”, and now it seems like Peli is trying to capture the magic he had captured with the “Paranormal Activity” and now tries his hand in adapting his story “The Diary of Lawson Oxford” with director Bradley Parker at the helm with the fictional film “The Chernobyl Diaries”. Nope, the film is not another “real footage” gimmick and dispenses of the documentary style cinematography that seemed to have become the staple of recent horror movies.

                             A scene from ``Chernobyl Diaries.''

The film supposedly follows a so-called “true story” as a group of tourists going around Europe decide to take up an offer of extreme tours with a man named Uri (Dimitri Diatchenko) to visit the remains a small town called Pripyat which served as a former home to the workers of the nuclear power plant. Paul (Jonathan Sadowski), his brother, Chris (Jesse McCarthy) and his girlfriend Natalie (Olivia Dudley) with her friend Amanda (Devin Kelley) believe that it would be a killer photo op to be in the Chernobyl site. They are joined by other tourists, Zoe and Michael (Ingrid Berdal and Nathan Philips) as Uri brings them to the infamous site. Despite not being allowed entry due to “maintenance”, the group sneaks through the back woods. Now, it seems like there is a sinister secret that had been left behind by the disaster that may cause them their very lives…

                             A scene from "Chernobyl Diaries."

                           Ingrid Bolso Berdal as Zoe, Nathan Phillips as Michael, Jonathan Sadowski as Paul, Dimitri Diatchenko as Uri, Devin Kelley as Amanda, Olivia Dudley as Natalie and Jesse McCartney as Chris in ``Chernobyl Diaries.''

Let’s get one thing straight. Oren Peli’s creations in the past may have left some horror fans aching for more. However, even when I thought that “Insidious” was a fine exercise in atmospheric horror, it was still drowned in cliché. “Chernobyl Diaries” is a film that carries a lot of clichés and below average characters. I know, sometimes simplicity can still strike a chord in horror, but there was something that was just missing with this horror film. I do not mind cliché, as long as the screenplay does something interesting with its characters. It has a good concept, but the vision and the execution of the film felt rather like ‘the same old tricks’ that we’ve seen in other horror films.

This film, can be quite a chore to watch. The film had been limited severely by the scope of its script, and it required a huge suspension of disbelief. Yes, I have seen some real documentaries that granted access to the Chernobyl site, and yes, the area had been declared a forbidden zone. The problem with the script is that the film relies on the viewer’s ability to buy into the fact that one could easily sneak into such an area. Not sure, but it is kind of hard to buy into that theory. I am sure that it possible but the ideas behind it were a little too underdeveloped. Also, the characters are rather uninteresting as you can tell from the beginning what their fate would be. Everyone felt like they were fodder and it was not a matter of “if“, but rather how and when they would die.

                         Jonathan Sadowski as Paul, Olivia Taylor Dudley as Natalie, Devin Kelley as Amanda, Jesse McCartney as Chris and Ingrid Bolso Berdal as Zoe in ``Chernobyl Diaries.''

                        Olivia Taylor Dudley as Natalie and Dimitri Diatchenko as Uri in ``Chernobyl Diaries.''

Granted, Parker’s direction did have some credible scenes that can generate horror. Sure, his style and timing have already been utilized in other horror movies that depend of the feeling of claustrophobia and helplessness. Parker uses shadows, the darkness and the feeling of being chased. The horrors behind “Diaries” come from the environment and the feeling of the unknown. I have to admit, Parker did get my curiosity and I was intrigued with how he was going to wrap things up. He utilizes imagery that can be creepy and some details are rather grisly. The direction also tries to use some jump scars that can be scary if a little overwrought in timing. However, much of the film depended on the viewer’s ability to buy into stupid decisions and frankly, much of the film is spent with the characters looking around to find who just went missing. It was all ‘by the numbers’ from there, as our folks stumble around and as they do, we get to see our antagonists little by little.

                     Jonathan Sadowski as Paul in ``Chernobyl Diaries.''

Once you get a hold of what is going on, “Chernobyl Diaries” pitch a pay off that felt more like a spin off “The Hills Have Eyes”, which really wasn’t that clever in the first place. Not really sure, the film does feel a little insensitive to the tragic events of the Chernobyl disaster. I know, this probably wasn’t Peli’s intentions, but having some fictional horror film sensationalize and rationalize the disaster. Making a fictional tale about the aftermath of such a tragedy feels a little cheap. But what do I know? It has been reported that Peli received letters from the children of the disaster praising him. Maybe there is some truth to all of this? Be that as it may, the film feels a little incomplete and just as things started to get interesting, it seemed to have stopped short. “Diaries” may not be a horrible movie, but it sure wasn’t a good one. At least it wasn’t another horror remake….

RENTAL [2 ½ Out of 5 Stars]

Poster art for "Chernobyl Diaries." Poster art for "Chernobyl Diaries."
What Lies Behind the Remains of the Chernobyl Disaster?

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June 07, 2012
"Making a fictional tale about the aftermath of such a tragedy feels a little cheap." It also sets the bar very high. Anyone making a movie like this implicitly promises that the imaginary horrors will overshadow the real-life ones for at least as long as we are watching. With something like the Chernobyl catastrophe, that seems impossible. Thank you for the interesting warning. Good job.
May 30, 2012
Guess I will wait for the rental
May 30, 2012
yeah. It was too bad that this could not have been better. Seen Battleship and Clash (I know you will dig this one) ? I have been real busy the past two weeks LOL!
May 28, 2012
I was on the fence on this movie since I love the idea of a horror film taking place in Chernobyl, but I'll probably pass on this one. Another great review, William!!
May 28, 2012
This one started out well, but as soon as you hit the second half, it begins to show the limitations of its script. Too bad, I really disliked that final act. It can either break or make a movie and in this case, it broke.
May 26, 2012
OK, well I'll take this off my "Should I see this?" list..LOL!! - maybe as a rental when I'm bored would be OK though. Love the review as always...!!
May 27, 2012
How have you been? How's Brandi? Have you quit smoking yet?
May 27, 2012
I've been OK - my abscessed tooth is much better and I have graduated to eating solid foods now..LOL! Brandi is doing well; out of school for the summer and not sure how I'm going to occupy her...and no, I haven't even tried to quit smoking yet - on my "to-do list" but it's also on my "I-don't when-to-do-it list"...LOL!! Hey, I finally got to see "We Bought A Zoo" and later I'll write just a short review on it--will let you know when it's posted. Bye and see ya!
May 27, 2012
I heard "We Bought a Zoo" is pretty awesome. Will look forward for that short review...
More Chernobyl Diaries reviews
review by . May 26, 2012
posted in Movie Hype
Star Rating:         The problem is twofold. On the one hand, when you see as many movies like Chernobyl Diaries as I have, you tend to develop a feel for them; you become accustomed to the pacing and editing techniques and know when to cover your ears, squint your eyes, and sink into your chair in preparation for a popout scare. When the moment has passed, disappointment sets in, for the scare was an unrelated throwaway gag that doesn’t advance the plot. Its …
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William ()
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Please "Like" Film and Movies and Keep the Economy strong....LOL!!      My Interests: Movies, Anime, History, Martial Arts, Comics, Entertainment,Cooking, Things I don't … more
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