Chernobyl Diaries

Just over 25 years ago, one of the reactors at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant suffered a meltdown. It was the worst disaster in the history of nuclear power. Four hundred times more radioactive material was released than at Hiroshima. It is difficult to estimate the actual deaths indirectly attributable to the incident, or the impact on health and life. At the very least, several hundred direct deaths have been confirmed, and it was a crippling blow to the Russian economy.

Approximately 135,000 people had to be evacuated from the surrounding areas. An uninhabited zone with a 20 mile radius known as the “zone of alienation” surrounds the concrete and lead sarcophagus that nuclear officials constructed on the site in order to contain the radiation. It has been estimated that this zone will be unsafe for human habitation for 20,000 years.

“Chernobyl Diaries” has the gall to create a horror movie about young people who recklessly sight-see this area… as if we wouldn’t want to see them killed.

I have some major issues with “Chernobyl Diaries”, but none so daunting as the behavior of the characters. Routinely, the characters of this movie defy common sense, logic and the basic tenets of survival.

Nowhere is this more egregious than the initial decision to go to Chernobyl to begin with. A trio of young people – a young man, his girlfriend, and one of her friends – go to Kiev to visit the young man’s brother. There, they’re convinced to forego a planned trip to Moscow and go to Chernobyl, instead.

What?

It’s abandoned, it’s a whole city with no people! It’s a ghost town!

No $&@#%ing shit it’s a ghost town, it glows in the dark!

Ok. Ok. They have to get these people to Chernobyl somehow, or there’s no movie. So I talked myself off the ledge momentarily – for about five minutes. Then the movie introduces how they’re all going to Chernobyl. The brother has signed them up with Uri, a sketchy Russian who runs an “extreme tourism” business. By himself. Out of like a hole in the wall with a bunch of pamphlets. When he loads the six of them (the main group of four is joined by two more at the last minute) into his van, I was literally thinking “There’s a 33% chance these dudes get killed and these three chicks wind up sex slaves in some Ukrainian hovel”.

They don’t, of course. Instead they wind up traipsing through the abandoned city of Prypiat, taking pictures of abandoned buildings and talking about how cool it is to be in an abandoned city. Predictably, their van breaks down and they’re trapped in the ruins after dark. And of course… there’s some manner of mutant beast and or beasts stalking them.

Which is a good thing, because the idiotic tourists need more opportunities to act idiotically. Leave the safety of the locked van? Check. Stay in the area in spite of mounting danger? Check. Follow thick drag trails of blood into dark and dangerous areas, unarmed, in search of their vanishing companions? Check.

In spite of all of this, the movie almost… almost won me over. It’s actually a decent (albeit disrespectful) setting for a horror movie. And I’m used to horror movie characters acting dumb, that gets taught in Horror Movie 101. There was a certain point where the movie could have risen past its sub par setup and become a decent horror movie. Unfortunately, it just finds new ways to be uninspired. It overplays the “don’t show the shark” card to a ridiculous degree, and way too much of the film is in the dark. I mean, I understand there’s no lights there, and they have no flashlights and whatnot, but c’mon.

And to top it all off? The movie has a stupid, stupid, stupid conclusion. I won’t spoil it outright, but man… it is dumb.

“Chernobyl Diaries” might be acceptable if you’re looking to watch people get hunted and run around screaming in the dark, but that’s about the best it has to offer.

D

20 thoughts on “Chernobyl Diaries

  1. Yep, knew this one would suck ass lol. Sick and tired of this kind of tripe, they need to stop NOW! In others news, last night’s Game of Thrones… :O haha

    • Yeah, it was totally sweet.

      I need high quality entertainment like GoT in order to counterbalance all the muck I dredge through. LOL :D

      So the Imp is gonna have a battle scar now? Sweet!

  2. Correct me if I’m wrong but this actually sounds like it might be worth a watch if you’re a sucker for crappy horror movies?

    • You know, Pete? I might not even recommend it then.

      I mean, I’M a sucker for crappy horror movies, and I was frustrated with it, so…

      There’s some kind of element that makes those movies fun, and I’m not sure that this movie has it. I’d have mentioned it if it did, I really would have. But there were a lot of really annoying things… maybe they wouldnt register the same way with you and you might enjoy them in that manner, but… for me… Nah.

  3. I probably enjoyed reading your review way more than I would seeing the movie as I am especially turned off by stupidity. (Still your review was really, really funny, especially when you said it still almost won you over…you hated the premise and the characters but it almost won you over…heehee.) Cheers.

    • LOL. What can I say, it did!

      There was a point maybe halfway in when the shit first starts to hit the fan, and they’re jusssst beginning to encouter the “threat”.

      That part of the movie was fairly ok. I could have gotten hook if they pulled up the nose of the plane from that point forward. But nope. Wasnt long before it got dumb again. LOL

      Glad you had fun with the review though, that’s the point of ‘em :D

  4. Yeahhhhh, don’t think I will be seeing this one. Theoretically, it does have a passable horror concept, but everything about it just sounds so dumb. Isn’t this ‘found footage’ as well?

  5. Yeah, it was extremely dumb but I also found it intense at times and had a couple of good scares. I don’t care much for animals coming into frame to give a cheap scare but the one in the aparment was cool. (Even if it did look CGI) Didn’t think the ending was that bad. Gave it a 7.

    • Nah. That ending was lame with a capital L. Just really really poor.

      That one moment you mention with the animal was the best scare the movie had to offer. LOL. Which is really kind of sad.

      A 7 is exceptionally generous on this one, man… you’re feeling kind hearted due to the holiday weekend or something. LOL

  6. Ahaha this quote made me laugh :D

    “Chernobyl Diaries” has the gall to create a horror movie about young people who recklessly sight-see this area… as if we wouldn’t want to see them killed.

    Yea, another one of these ridiculous C-horror movies that no cares about. Naturally, Netflix will rush to add it to its Instant Streaming lineup.

  7. I’m going to make a request right now, to any entities that may have an influence on such things… please, please, please don’t let this ever be the only horror film available to me when it comes time to pick up my Halloween Haunters segment again. It’s sounded pretty dire right from the beginning of the ad campaign, and you’re convincing me it’s worse than it sounded. Seriously, at what point does “Hey, let’s visit a radioactive wasteland!” start sounding like a good idea? That’s not just “drunk stupid” or “stoned stupid”, that’s “I’ve had my brain reprogrammed by a mad scientist stupid”.

    • Its completely ridiculous. And it causes a problem for the entire movie, because you have no sympathy for them. I was like… even if there weren’t evil mutationified thingamabobs running around, wtf did you expect? Honestly, anything could have happened to them.

      There was a point where they made good use of the setting and built some decent tension, but it wasnt long before they pissed it away.

      I hope you have better options too brother.

      • I can certainly see how it would cause that problem. Even a horror movie has to have a premise that isn’t totally stupid. I’ll meet them halfway. You want to say that a serial killer can come back in dreams? OK. A meteor can revive an ancient dinosaur? Sure, why not. Solar radiation is causing the dead to rise from their graves and become cannibals? I’ll play along. I’ll give your movie a chance to prove itself or fail on its own merits if the premise is even remotely workable. But “people who were able to survive until adulthood decide to take a vacation in an area precisely because it’s actively hostile to life” doesn’t fit.

  8. as if we wouldn’t want to see them killed

    THAT’S one of my biggest problems with the movie. Every single death happens off-screen, except for one, and that death isn’t even related to irradiated Ukrainians. This whole damn movie is just one big cheat.

    • Yup. Havent swung by to see what you had to say yet, but thats a great, great point. How about adding actually SEEING the things we’re supposed to be so afraid of eventually to that complaint? I understand slow playing your hand a la Jaws when it comes to moster reveals, but when you NEVER show it at ALL? Thats just cheating. I think towards the end there were some quick, silly glimpses.

      Bad Movie. Bad! LOL

    • Nodding.

      Yup.

      Me too. LOL.

      Which creates a problem for this flick, I mean (aside from all its myriad of other problems, Andy) if your brain rejects the very premise, you’re in trouble buying into other things, too, you know?

      Sigh. Hollywood. LOL

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