Film Reviews: “Chernobyl Diaries” (2012)

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Four friends traveling around Europe get the chance to explore the abandoned city of Pripyat as part of an extreme tour, and roam around for an afternoon. They meet up with their travel guide and a young couple, looking for the same adventure. The group loads into a van and makes it into the city through some back roads. Once the afternoon is completed they head back to the van to find that it won’t start. Chaos ensues as the group is attacked and has to battle rabid dogs, radioactive fish, and overexposed mutant humanoids.

The premise and concept sound so much better than is delivered. I really wanted to like this film. I’ve been fascinated with Chernobyl and Pripyat for a long time, as many people are. Insensitive or not, the place is legendary and makes a great location for a horror story.

The first 10 minutes are really bad. The acting and “getting to know” the characters are so cliched and forced that its unbearable to watch. Once the group meets up with the tour guide, things finally start to get interesting. We are treated to a nice half hour’ish tour of Pripyat along with the characters. At this point, I am digging the film, thinking about all of the possibilities and directions it could go. Even though this wasn’t really filmed in Pripyat, the vibe is the same and gives me chills.

About 40 minutes in, the group gets back to the van to leave, and it won’t start. From here on out the film falls apart completely, which is unfortunate because here is where it should have delivered. Going into this, I thought that “Chernobyl Diaries” was about ghosts. The trailer definitely¬†alludes to that, but it’s not. In fact until the final 5 minutes, I still had no idea what the actors were running from, because they barely show you!

Half of this film is shaky cam, flashlights, running, and stupidity. It’s so irritating to watch! The action is so blurred and disorienting that I have no idea what was going on for the majority of those last 40 minutes. This isn’t entertaining! I could have shot myself running around in the dark with a flashlight and shaking the camera. Anyone could. So why is this half of the film???

The ending is bad. Very bad. I won’t spoil that part for you. Feel free to see it and to draw your own conclusions. The middle of the film is great, but it’s sandwiched between some real shit. Chernobyl Diarrhea. This should have been so much better.

1 1/2 out of 4 stars.

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