I hate to generalize but it seems safe to say that if someone makes a movie where a group of Americans go to Russia avoid it like the plague. Seeing The Darkest Hour last year really took a lot out of me but nothing compares to the utter atrocity that is Chernobyl Diaries. It’s not that the movie makes little attempt to put the events of Chernobyl into perspective, instead mining it as a bastardized remake of The Hills Have Eyes, but for a movie clocking in at 88 minutes, it’s far too long! Let’s begin…
Four friends decide to go “extreme touring” by visiting the city of Pripyat, the former home of the workers of the Chernobyl disaster. Once there the tour group’s car is disabled and the group is left to fend for themselves in the radioactive city. Compounding matters are mysterious creatures out to get them.
Honestly I’m drawing a blank in terms of praise-worthy content. The movie just does not do its homework! If you go online there are various reliable tour agencies that do tours of Pripyat, in fact there’s a hotel where people can stay with amenities and everything so it’s hard to watch a movie where the only tour agency is a guy (ex-Special Forces because we’re in Russia!) with a beat-up minivan! Have you seen The Hills Have Eyes (either version) then you’ve seen Chernobyl Diaries! Most teens, the target demographic of this movie, have no knowledge of the Chernobyl disaster and the movie doesn’t truly provide an explanation for what happened. All that’s known is the reactor blew, and it’s a ghost town. Let’s not delve into the fact that people died…it’s a spooky ghost town!
The aforementioned “creatures” are purely mutant humans, at least that’s what I was supposed to get because they’re filmed entirely in the dark! It’s not meant to be a cool move where your imagination fills in the blank; it just comes off like they had either bad makeup work to hide or no light. The lack of light is a problem because when it becomes dark the audience is left not knowing what’s happening because it’s dark as hell!
The actors are all various shades of bad and are so forgettable you won’t remember their names. There’s the two brothers, the two chicks, the other couple and Uri that tour guide. As the characters start disappearing this is where the frustration sets in because no matter how different they all look, they’re all equally stupid. This group openly avoids dogs that roam around yet run face-first into locations with mutants! On top of this, they come to understand that if there’s anyone in this village…they’re mutants and yet the scene in the trailer with the little girl, they walk right up to her after having three separate encounters with the mutants! You seriously believe this is a perfectly normal little girl! The ending is just as ridiculous as it goes into the same cover-up type of territory as Apollo 18 and I never wanted to reference that movie ever again.
There’s ONE scene of note and that’s a scene involving a bear and an apartment and that can wait till it hits YouTube. Chernobyl Diaries is easily one of the worst movies of the year purely because it’s cheap and lazy. Director Bradley Parker is making this his film debut and I’ll be surprised to hear if he gets a second chance to helm anything after this. Avoid like the plague, or like mutants in a ghost town!