Media Review: “Chernobyl Diaries”

Grade: D

“Chernobyl Diaries” is a nuclear meltdown in its own right.

“Chernobyl Diaries” follows six tourists and their tour guide as they take an “extreme” tour into the abandoned city of Pripyat, Ukraine, once the home to the workers of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant, which suffered a catastrophic meltdown in 1986. The city was abandoned during the night and in their hurry the inhabitants left most of their possessions.

While backpacking through Europe, Chris (Jesse McCartney), Amanda (Devin Kelley) and Natalie (Olivia Dudley) meet up with Chris’s brother Paul (Jonathan Sadowski) and are led by tour guide Uri (Dimitri Diatchenko) into Pripyat despite the warnings of local officials not to trespass.

What begins as a simple trip into an deserted town quickly turns into the trip from hell as they soon realize they’re not alone and that Pripyat may not be as abandoned as they thought.

Acting, camera work, sound, editing, etc. all aside “Chernobyl Diaries” has something but that something just wasn’t quite put together in the right way.

“Chernobyl Diaries” is an ambitious concept but was executed poorly by director Bradley Parker. The idea of an abandoned nuclear disaster site being the focus of a zombie-esque type film really is quite genius and very interesting to audiences. However, it seemed as if the film never built up any momentum. The suspense was there for the momentum to build upon but the suspense wore off 45 minutes into the film. Momentum without suspense and a horror film lacking any momentum or suspense at all makes for a bad film.

The film just couldn’t decide what to focus on and the audience never really felt as if the characters were in any real danger. There are a lot of blurry shots of the “zombies,” but you never actually see one close up until the very end of the film. They could’ve played off of that beautifully as they attempted to do various types of the all important jump scare, so symbolic of horror movies, but it wasn’t there. There’s nothing scary about slow moving zombies if for one you can’t see them and two there’s no sense of urgency for the characters actions.

The building blocks to a great story were all there, but it required some tweaking to really make it a cohesive story.

This film really needed something to help drive it and give it direction, but when you leave plot holes and unanswered questions along the way you only confuse audiences and give them a bad experience.

The story became so straight forward that by the end I could predict what was going to happen next and it wasn’t even exciting. In fact it took away from the horror experience.

“Chernobyl Diaries” had really good intentions but somewhere along the way it was misdirected from a horror movie to a horrific mess of a film.