Six tourists hire an extreme tour guide who takes them to the abandoned city Pripyat, the former home to the workers of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. During their exploration, they soon discover they are not alone.
Americans Chris, his girlfriend Natalie and their friend Amanda travel to Europe on vacation. They meet up with Chris' brother Paul living in Kiev, Ukraine. Chris wants to travel to Moscow to propose to Natalie, but Paul convinces the group to first visit Chernobyl with an extreme tourism guide. They meet the guide Uri and another couple who are also going on the tour. Uri explains that because of the radiation levels he can only take them to Pripyat, a deserted city very near Chernobyl. They travel by van, but are stopped by a military checkpoint that makes them turn back. Not giving up, Uri finds an alternative route to the town. The group spends the day taking photographs and exploring abandoned buildings. Uri becomes nervous and decides it's time to head home. However, the van won't start and they discover the engine was sabotaged. Soon they discover that they are stranded, no one knows they are there and that they are definitely not alone. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
Begins with a promising setup and eerie setting, but quickly falls victim to shoddy camera work and predictable horror tropes.
Chernobyl Diaries a hollow shell of a movie: It has a good premise and
the perfect backdrop for a horror flick, but with absolutely no
substance. That's the best way I can describe it. The vacant
radiation-laden Chernobyl is a wonderfully creepy place for a horror
movie to take place. It sets up with a group of friends touring Europe
and one of them has the bright idea to go on an "extreme tour" so they
make a quick pit stop at Chernobyl. They see an abandoned ferris wheel,
they explore the empty buildings, they see the remains of dead animals
it sets up an effectively creepy atmosphere. One of the girls takes a
picture and something odd can be seen in a window. Weird, right? Well
apparently not weird enough for her to say anything. After they snap a
few pictures with the beautifully bleak backdrop of dead trees and
industrial smoke stacks, they go back to the tour van. Then the entire
bottom of the movie drops.
From there it's cliché city. Cars not starting, people going places
they shouldn't, people splitting up when they shouldn't be - everything
gets so dumb so quickly it's unreal. You stop caring about the
characters after a while because they're making stupid decisions so
there's no one to root for. The only character with any personality was
the tour guide and he is hardly used, so we're left with six unlikable
people struggling to find their way out of the city while getting
picked off one by one. It simply isn't interesting. There are no scares
and there is little to no suspense. It's just "shhh I hear
something..." and then "oh no, something's around the corner" and then
they get attacked and it's like 'well yeah, of course that's going to
happen'. It's too predictable for it to be scary, and it's too
disjointed to make it unsettling. It's just watching and waiting for
these characters to die so the movie can end.
The disjointedness mainly comes from the directing. The first shot
leads you to believe it's a found-footage movie, but it isn't. It is
just shot that way - shaky cam, quick movements, no clear view of
anything really. It just makes no sense because we know someone's
holding the camera and it acts as a person, but the group of people are
oblivious to it so it's like an invisible, mute character that allows
us to see through its point-of-view. I don't know why they thought it
was a good idea to film it that way because it gets noticeably worse as
the movie goes on: The more stressed the characters are, the worst the
camera work gets. It's incredibly annoying.
Which leads me to believe the only thing the writers had for Chernobyl
Diaries was its premise - a group of kids stranded in Chernobyl. Then
they were like "well, now that they're stranded in this creepy,
radioactive, vacant city... let's just have them run around and get
killed off one by one until the end." It's just lazy writing. The
entire third act feels rushed, not to mention the horribly
anti-climactic ending. Chernobyl Diaries is a flop; uninspired, boring,
and worst of all, completely unscary.
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