PLOT: CHERNOBYL DIARIES follows a group of six young vacationers who, looking to go off the beaten path, hire an "extreme" tour guide. Ignoring warnings, he takes them into the city of Pripyat, the former home to the workers of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, but a deserted town since the disaster more than 25 years ago. After a brief exploration of the abandoned city, however, the group soon finds themselves stranded, only to discover that they are not alone.
REVIEW: An Eastern Bloc riff on Wes Craven’s THE HILLS HAVE EYES, Bradley Parker’s CHERNOBYL DIARIES is something (I hesitate to call it a “film” because plot and characters are required to earn that title and this has neither) that should’ve never been released during the summer movie season. I know Warner Bros and writer/producer Oren Peli (the creator of the PARANORMAL ACTIVITY franchise) probably thought putting it in theaters opposite the likes of THE AVENGERS and BATTLESHIP was clever counter-programming but the gambit failed. This was an October or early January release at best. A “filler” pic to be released, enjoyed by few, and then quickly forgotten.
Harsh words, I know, but true. The lack of originality, violence, gore, nudity, and anything that would’ve warranted the R-rating DIARIES earned is staggering. Oh sure, “harsh language” is probably what pushed this up from a PG-13 …but when was the last time you went to a horror pic to listen to people swearing at each other? The correct answer should be NEVER.
I’m not going to mince words: CHERNOBYL DIARIES is a dud. Only thing that kept me from nodding off was some decent cinematography (Serbia and Hungary subbed for Pripyat), a fun performance from Dimitri Diatchenko as doomed tour guide Uri, Olivia Dudley’s heaving cleavage, and the absolutely ridiculous ending which somehow managed to present a dozen new questions without answering any of the ones presented during the preceding eighty minutes.
And while one might assume the blame for this mess should be laid upon Peli (who’s similiarly-themed “found footage” flick AREA 51 still has yet to hit theaters) and Parker (DIARIES is his directorial debut), I’ve got a feeling the real culprits are Shane and Carey Van Dyke. Why? Well, the Van Dykes are creative geniuses responsible for such Asylum “mockbusters” as THE DAY THE EARTH STOPPED, TITANIC II, TRANSMORPHERS: FALL OF MAN, and, in a strange bit of meta-meta, the PARANOMRAL ACTIVITY knock-off PARANORMAL ENTITY. Had I known they were involved going in, I’d have lowered my expectations accordingly.