Chernobyl Diaries was released on Friday to less than thunderous applause. The story follows six 20-somethings, the most well-known of which being Jesse McCartney, who are embarking on a great European adventure. While in Russia, they decide to give “extreme tourism” a try by exploring the abandoned town of Pripyat, where the families of the workers of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor lived.
The basis of the film is historically accurate. The guide, Uri, played by Dimitri Diatchenko, explains to the other characters about the dangerous levels of radiation that forced immediate evacuation from the town of Pripyat in 1986. To add a little bit more of authenticity to the project, the movie was actually filmed in parts of Europe and on location in Pripyat, Russia.
However, that’s where the positive points come to an abrupt halt.The entire movie was painfully predictable, with the single exception of a random brown bear. Confused? Basically, if you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen the movie. It’s all fun and games until the cables to the van are cut and the naïve tourists are trapped with no cell phone service. What was that noise? I’ll go investigate! Cue the screams and hello there, victim number one. More will be joining you shortly.
This movie is basically like any other “we are not alone type of horror film,” just set in a different location. We got to see a lot of the town of Pripyat during the constant blind running of the protagonists who spent half of their time racing away and hiding from the mutant creatures that were after them, and the other half running towards them in order to make absolutely sure their friends were completely dead before leaving them behind.
Most of the dialogue consisted of “Oh, my God’s,” startled curses, crying, and screaming. The camera work was intentionally shaky, to give the effect that we, as audience members, are there with the actors on the screen in that situation. However, it produced more of a headache effect than anything else. There were, of course, the obligatory moments that caused viewers to jump, but that was mainly due to a spark in the music, because the mysteriously distorted beings that were hunting the group in Pripyat were never clearly displayed for the audience.
The one moment when these characters really caused emotions to stir was SPOILER ALERT when Jesse McCartney’s character, Chris, proposed to his girlfriend, Natalie, played by Olivia Taylor Dudley, in a moment of desperation about halfway through the film. He knew they weren’t going to make it to the end credits, so then was as good a time as any, right?
The ending of the film was a feeble attempt at a twist that anyone could see coming. If anything could have saved this film, a deeper development of the proposed conspiracy would have done the trick, but alas, that was just a burst of an actual story after 80 minutes of blandness. Maybe that’s the reasoning behind the short running time length—lack of a plot. Overall, Chernobyl Diaries isn’t a movie worth racing towards.