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
Chernobyl diaries documents the travels of four American tourists including Chris (played by Jessee McCartney) who stop in Kyiv to visit Chris's brother Paul before recommencing their travels across Europe. After a night out, they propose to explore the abandoned town of Prypiat, the home of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant that previously hosted an infamous disaster. Of course, the horrors that surrounded the Plant have't quite dissipated and therefore something conspicuously sinister awaits these tourists.
Whilst the film doesn't offer anything particularly new to the horror genre, it does offer some genuinely horrifying moments which will serve to sustain the audiences' attention throughout. Though the characters aren't particularly interesting, they do form a likable group throughout the duration of the film and really authenticate the moments of horror. At times, the film verges on resembling a slasher - let's just see what's around the corner - kind of moments which prevent the film from constructing its own narrative based on this unique situation.
Stylistically the film is interesting as it utilises the shaky camera aesthetic in the first half and then seems to divulge into a more traditional way of filming. It's almost as if director Bradley Parker is creating two films concurrently; a shaky-cam experience of Americans stranded in Europe and a film about a group who are terrorised by zombie-like creatures. Producer Oren Peli has definitely made his presence aware, with the film's Paranormal Activity style "gotcha" moments which are often scary but also predictable and unimaginative.
The film could have focused on the origins of the Chernobyl disaster in some detail to provide a context for these creatures, though their behaviour would still have remained an enigma even with this explanation in place. Are they hungry for human flesh or are they merely crazy? These questions are also evoked in the Wrong Turn films which this film is indebted with its depiction of mutants as the result of a radiation catastrophe. Are the mutants the real victims here?
As well as paying homage to Wrong Turn, the film has a very Hostel-like feel with its commentary on Eastern Europe as a space of corruption and danger. The overall creepy, inauspicious atmosphere constructed in the film really lends credence to the horror depicted which compensates for what lacks in terms of the film's antagonists, whatever they are.
If anything is to be learnt from this film, stay the other side of the pond.
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