Cheap scares and blurry visuals abound in “Chernobyl Diaries”; a promising horror flick with lackluster execution. An otherwise interesting and fairly original plot is muddled up with a promise of an impending disfigured evil which never really rears its ugly head.
The premise is as simple as the title would suggest. Five young people pay top dollar to go on an extreme tour which promises an adventurous romp through the abandoned town of Prypiat. In the wake of the 1986 Chernobyl disaster, the town was abandoned literally overnight and is now guarded with a series of checkpoints due to the high levels of radiation that still exist in the area. Since the nuclear power plant meltdown the town has been left in unlivable conditions for humans and animals alike. As the group venture further into the town they soon realize that they are definitely not alone.
Of course, visions of disfigured “Hills Have Eyes” looking creatures are all that come to mind when the proverbial shit starts hitting the fan, but nothing ever materializes. Through all the running and chasing and flashlight shaking action we are given mere glimpses of what the good-looking group of tourists are up against. Given the working title of the film it was pretty unforgivable to never see a single distorted radioactive freak up close and personal.
Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for the notion of letting my imagination build the gap between script and screen, but with a plot as shallow as “Chernobyl Diaries” it left me wanting more. Not to mention, given the sensitivity of the subject matter and the way the filmmakers approached it with the grace of a rhino in a china shop, I’m surprised more people weren’t appalled with the overall premise of the film. A real life tragedy which took place a mere 26 years ago should probably have been approached with a little more aplomb.
Insensitivity aside, “Chernobyl Diaries” is a great idea on paper but with poor execution throughout. It’s an incredibly shallow film with little to no character development and an even thinner story arch. In fact, once the vapid horde of central characters start getting picked off one by one, the faceless freaks become the ironic heroes of the whole affair (I mean, who DOESN’T want to see Jesse McCartney suffer a horrific death, am I right?).
Amidst all the whisper talking, I also found myself engaged in a cat and mouse game with my volume control. “Chernobyl Diaries” is one of those films that relies heavily on the jump scare tactic, which means turning your volume nearly all the way up to hear the intermittent conversations only to end up turning it back down when the movie rattles your bones with a piercingly loud gag. In short, it has all the signs of a movie with little in the way of any actual substance.
The blu ray special features are almost as pointlessly hollow as the actual movie. Included in the extras section are: an alternate ending the likes of which is almost as bad as the pointless original, a viral video, and an additional scene that was cut from the film. All in all, a pretty bare bones set of extras to accompany a fairly mediocre movie to begin with.
Film: 2.5 Yaps
Extras: 2 Yaps