FILM REVIEW: Chernobyl Diaries (2012)

I'm on vacation in Europe* and I'm freakin' bored. What to do...what to do? I know! Let's go check out Chernobyl! You know...that place in the Ukraine where that nuclear power plant blew up causing a catastrophic event that radioactively contaminated the entire surrounding area for years leading to over 50,000 related cancer deaths. Holy shit...that sounds like a fantastic idea! Let's go!

Sometimes the premise from genre films are so almost feel sorry for the characters in these films because you know they were written to make stupid decisions on purpose. I mean, I know that the writers needed to find some excuse to get our young characters into the cross hairs of this horror story in an efficient manner...but, let's not suspend belief and create bone-headed situations for the sole purpose of getting the story going. More on this later. 

And let me get this out of the way first and fore-most. I'm convinced that any horror-related website or publication out there that writes a glowing review of this film is more concerned with gettin' a pull quote to appear on the slip case of the DVD whenever that comes out. Because, they clearly don't give any kind of fuck about your experience as an intelligent horror fan. We, on the other hand, do care about your time and money...which is why we sit through films like this in which to give you a friendly warning to stay away and not waste said time and money on a shallow and excruciating film like this. However, because we also think that it would be cool to have a pull quote on the slip case of any DVD film...let us offer the following glowing quote that we can say about Chernobyl Diaries:

"Chernobyl Diaries is filmed beautifully and uses the warm textures of the landscapes of a radioactively contaminated environment so magnificently, you almost walk away from the film feeling like you yourself have acute radiation syndrome!" -

There. Now...let's talk about what really happened with this film...shall we?

So, we have three friends (Natalie, Amanda and Chris) who hook up with Paul (Chris' brother who conveniently lives in Kiev, which is a couple hours from Chernobyl) while traveling across Europe in search of awesome times. Now...because our main cast is a bunch of fun-seeking young back-packers on an adventurous trip across Europe it makes total sense to offer up the notion of touring a landmark of history notoriously known for causing the worst nuclear accident known to mankind...right? And...on top of makes even more sense for everyone to agree to that idea so willingly and matter-of-factly....right?? Well, friends...that's the catalyst of the story.

Personally, I think they should've pulled a page out of one of those Locked Up Abroad shows that I just can't get enough of and had them dropped off into that isolated environment by a bunch of drug-trafficking douche-bags in an effort to make the premise more plausible. Because if one of my buddies came up to me with such a dumb-ass idea of checking out the one place that has caused over 50 fucking thousand cancer deaths in the last three decades...I'd simply tell him to go fuck himself and move on with my life.

So, now we have our cast driving off in a beat up old van, that we just know is going to have a problem starting at some point in the film, with an ex-special forces guy named Uri who runs an "extreme tour" service in hopes of having a cool experience to tell their kids one day. And I probably would've forgiven the whole ludicrous set-up if the filmmakers conjured up something truly terrifying and mildly original after our young thrill-seekers get to the abandoned Chernobyl danger zone. Not unless you're in the mood for a lame Hills Have Eyes/Descent rip-off with less glimpses of the film's antagonists.

The entire cast is actually pretty good for what is asked of them (especially the hotness factor of the female cast)...which makes the film even worse because you actually think that there's no way in hell these American tourists would actually fall for a premise like this. And then...all those frustrating decisions they make! Just stop already! 

And...then there's a fuckin' bear.

In the end...Chernobyl Diaries is just another run-of-the-mill genre flick dumped into theaters hoping to get some genre fans who are starved of horror in seats to make a quick buck. I'm actually surprised that this film wasn't rated PG-13 to grab a broader audience. In fact...I'm more surprised that this film has an R rating as it is mostly devoid of any real gore, language, and most of all...titties. I'm also perplexed as to why they titled the film "Chernobyl Diaries" because there is no goddamn diary in the film, whatsoever.

It's best to just skip this one and save it for one of those rainy days at home when you are absolutely positively completely bored and wish to visit a poor film that takes full advantage of such a terrible tragedy in our world's history with rehashed ideas from other better films. Oren Peli should be ashamed of Chernobyl Diaries. In a just world that last sentence would be pulled for the DVD slip case.

*I'm actually not on vacation in Europe. I simply lied in an attempt to use funny banter to illustrate an extremely dumb plot device in the film.


Thanks for reading,