One of the more anticipated horror movies of the summer, “Chernobyl Diaries,” directed by Bradley Parker, releases into theaters. Being marketed as a film from producer, Oren Peli (who has also worked on the successful Paranormal Activity franchise), one would assume this film would be a complete success. The movie’s trailer paints a fairly decent picture of the dark and dreary settings and screams you may encounter while watching the film. Did this movie surpass expectations or was the entire thrill and chill the movie had to offer given away in its trailer?
It starts off, like most predictable horror movies, with a group of young adults looking for fun and adventure, thankfully steering away from the overdone “jock” and “stoner” personas. Chris, (Jesse McCartney) the seemingly main character, Natalie, (Olivia Dudley) his girlfriend and their friend, Amanda (Devin Kelley) travel different locations in Europe eventually stopping to pay a visit to Chris’s brother, Paul (Jonathan Sadowski). After a small brotherly dispute, the idea of venturing off on an extreme tour comes to fruition. Joined by another couple on the tour, and lead by the headstrong and slightly comical tour guide, they head out to the evacuated, radiation saturated town of Chernobyl. Coming across several road blocks, the tension builds as the tourist begin to wonder what exactly they have gotten themselves into. After finally reaching the city, the tour ends off with, as expected, a very bad problem that results in the group staying in Chernobyl longer than anticipated.
The first thirty minutes or so of the film actually seems promising, with the mixture of dark suspense combined with the perfect eerie setting and rising tense emotions. However, once the thought of “finally, here comes the scary part,” you’re kind of left just staring and wondering “any minute now!” There are moments that will leave you holding your breath, frozen at the edge of your seat just to realize what actually happens is more than likely not as scary as your own mind imagined. Every other suspense scene was predictable, with small doses of actual uncertainty followed by a dull expression of letdown. The combination of brief introductions and superficial characters cause a lack of compassion and connection from the audience. Even some of the lines from the movie screamed unoriginal.
The storyline lacks luster and a fresh concept of horror films. Time and time again, radiation infected monster type movies have been made with very little positive outcomes and unfortunately, this movie is no different. Considering the hype behind this movie, it’s safe to say this film was a flop overall. It may have been judged less harshly if it didn’t have a successful producer on the lineup. This would rank as a very low 3 out of 10 on the scream scale and barely scrapes a 5 on suspense. This movie proves that you should stay far, far away from anything that has to do with Chernobyl.
FINAL GRADE: D
Reel Film News Movie Review by Neshell Hogan