Sunday, June 03, 2012

Chronicling Your Last Moments with the Chernobyl Diaries: A Movie Review

Director: Bradley Parker.

Writers: Oren Peli, Carey Van Dyke, and Shane Van Dyke.

Cast: Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Dimitri Diatchenko, Olivia Dudley, Devin Kelley, Jesse McCartney, and Nathan Phillips.

Tagline: "Experience the fallout."

Common sense would say: "stay away from irradiated landscapes." But for Zoe (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal), Michael (Nathan Phillips), Natalie (Olivia Dudley), Amanda (Devin Kelley), Chris (Jesse McCartney) and Paul (Jonathan Sadowski), this is an adventure! Or perhaps, this is a tragedy as the town of Pripyat, Ukraine now hosts an assortment of human oddities. They only show their hideous faces at night and the Chernobyl Diaries slowly begins to create scares. Then, the horrors on screen along with the isolated location create for true terror!

The story begins simply enough with Chris visiting his brother, Paul, in Kiev. Yet, Paul is an adrenalin junkie and he wants to set out on "an extreme adventure." Their destination is Pripyat which borders the Chernobyl failed reactor. The lands have been irradiated since 1986, but now radiation levels are low enough to allow for touring. The frankenfish and mysterious shapes in windows should foreshadow how this story will play out. Nighttime brings the greatest dangers.

And setting the film in an abandoned city is really a great idea. Most horror films involve some sort of isolation whether that involves rural landscapes or not. Here, the isolated location is urban. Yet, there are just as many dangers in this setting as a camping trip gone awry. The initial scenes showing Pripyat hint at lives ruined by the disaster. Many more lives will be ruined by the end of this feature.

And the antagonists are kept in mystery for a good portion of the film. Writer Oren Peli (Paranormal Activity) and director Bradley Parker tease the villains with a shot here and there. But the monsters really only show themselves in the climax. By this time, the protagonists have been whittled down to a few and elements of tragedy begin to emerge. More villains appear late in the film in the form of scientists. Some of their patients have escaped into the nearby city and they seem ambivalent of their return.

The Chernobyl Diaries is a fun film. There are some scares to be found below the city streets of Pripyat. After all, almost every hallway is darkened and behind every corner is another set of teeth. The situation seems believable initially with tour guide Uri (Dimitri Diatchenko) taking his passengers a little too far off the beaten path. The acting is above average for a horror feature and the pacing moves at a quick clip. The film is only eighty-six minutes, so events must begin in haste. And the pacing keeps the thrills coming with one gruesome scene after another.

This film fan really enjoyed this film and many horror fans will too. The production here is high and the story is unique. How many films have been set in a nuclear disaster zone? The isolated location amplifies the tension with Peli and his writing crew highlighting the terror with mysterious cannibalistic creatures. This is one exciting tour that horror fans are not going to want to miss!

Overall: 7.5 out of 10.

The film's homepage is here:

Chernobyl Diaries at Warner Bros.

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