Chernobyl Diaries Review

So you have a choice; either take a trip to historic Moscow and visit the Kremlin, see the Bolshoi or, hell, even Gorky Park, or you can go to Chernobyl to see a bunch of high-rise towers from the seventies that will most likely give you cancer.

Surely the answer to this can be found in the dictionary under “no brainer”.

Sadly for the characters in Chernobyl Diaries, none of them seem to possess such a either a dictionary or a brain.

Here’s the low down on the new Oren Peli penned horror flick; a group of good looking, carefree American young adults are travelling across Europe and having the time of their lives.

Chris, his girlfriend Natalie and just friend Amanda are visiting Chris’s reckless brother Paul in Kiev and are all set to take their happy adventure from the Ukraine to Moscow.

Until Paul decides it would be, like, really cool to go on an extreme tourism excursion to the abandoned city of Pripyat, the setting for Chernobyl’s nuclear disaster from 1986.

Of course, as the name of the film suggests, they decide to take up this detour and sneak into the ruined town along with two other extreme backpacking bozos and Uri, officially the worst tour guide in the history of time.

After spending the day looking at tower blocks, rusty bits of metal and mutant fish, the group return to their van only to discover something has destroyed some wires and they’re stuck in this not-so-deserted-town with no easy way out.

Except that there are ways out all over the place, so you keep wondering why they never just, you know, walk out?

Ok, so there are a few obstacles between our intrepid travellers and their freedom, like those mutant fish, some mutant dogs and, most worryingly, mutant thalidomide babies.

Classy touch right there.

But instead Chernobyl Diaries slows down to what can only be described as a tedious pace, allowing our hapless characters to run about a bit so they can be bumped off one at a time.

Which was fine by me, as I began baying for the blood of all concerned from the opening scenes.

They’re a bunch of self-indulgent idiots who should be collectively nominated for The Darwin Awards, with the notable exception of the remarkable Uri, played by Dimitri Diatchenko, whose dialogue kept me in stitches.

Whether this was intentional or not is another matter.

The script makes some lukewarm attempts at character development, but the central players are more lifeless than the mutant creatures attacking them.

Ultimately, Chernobyl Diaries leaves you feeling remarkably disappointed and not remotely scared. After his success with Paranormal Activity, I had hoped for more from the new film by the talented Peli.

But you have to wonder just how talented someone is after getting things so spectacularly wrong here.

You might be wondering whether this film is offensive to anyone who’s been affected by the nuclear fallout from the Chernobyl disaster but, in my opinion, I don’t really think that’s the case.

You can actually visit the area now, and if this film drives tourism to a region that is in financial difficulties and creates greater awareness of what happened here, frankly I think that’s a good thing.

Chernobyl Diaries’ poster declares “they said nothing survived” but something did.

It’s called a terrible script.

Hannah Lane

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Dates ‘n stuff

June 2012