‘Chernobyl Diaries’ Review


Film Pulse Score

Release Date: May 26, 2012
Director: Bradley Parker
MPAA Rating: R
Film Pulse Score: 5/10

Chernobyl Diaries, the new film produced by the director of Paranormal Activity, Oren Peli, is exactly what you’d expect from that line of movies.  Handheld, shaky camera work has elevated from The Blair Witch Project to a slightly similar style that still instills the loss of control that those found footage movies boast about, but Chernobyl Diaries does it a little more cinematic.  Granted, the director of this film, Bradley Parker, has definitely not reinvented the wheel (or in this case, the found footage style) but he has presented us with a slightly different way to watch them.

A group of friends travel Europe, experiencing the quintessential Americanized trip of seeing the sights overseas, and the film starts off with a series of establishing shots that are supposed to make us see the main characters having fun and start seeing relationships start, obviously because they will all probably die later in the film.  It starts to become obvious that we are supposed to relate with Chris (Jesse McCartney) and his brother Paul (Jonathan Sadowski) when we arrive in the city that Paul is living now.  However, these types of films never really offer enough character development or story for us to truly relate to any which character.

Paul convinces everyone to push their plans back and go on an extreme tourist event through Pripyat, where the workers of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor once lived, but since an accident in the past, has been deserted for years.  Gee, sounds like a great idea Paul!

The movie takes a path that is readily guessed from the trailer and synopsis, and doesn’t offer any surprises along the way, except for a bear in one scene (guess you’ll have to watch it to see what I mean).  The characters all make the decisions that you really wish they didn’t, and it is with pain and discomfort we watch them continue to dig deeper in what is blatantly a city that will be the death of them.

Along the ride, there are some moments where I jumped but I just blame that on my nerves.  Most of the moments that were meant to scare you are moments that you can feel coming or was already used in the trailer.

My one huge gripe with this movie, just one because it honestly wasn’t as bad as it could’ve been, is that at the end of the movie there is a seemingly second storyline that is introduced but only used as a ‘shock ending’ and I was legitimately interested in the second storyline than the first.  I wish we could have learned more about the secrets surrounding Chernobyl but I suppose they might try to squeeze a sequel out of it, depending on how it performs this weekend at the box office.

Either way, it wasn’t horrible, nor the greatest thing since self-cleaning ovens, but it’s definitely straight down the middle of the road of a movie.  Hence, the 5 rating.