Tuesday, 30 October 2012

Chernobyl Diaries Review

Horror – Starring Ingrid Bolso Berdal, Dimitri Diatchenko, Olivia Dudley, Devin Kelley, Jesse McCartney, Nathan Phillips, Jonathan Sadowski. Written by Oren Peli, Carey Van Dyke, Shane Van Dyke. Directed by Bradley Parker (2012)

Three young Americans – love birds Natalie and Chris, and photographer Amanda – are travelling through Europe. In Kiev, they met up with Chris’s brother Paul, en route to Moscow. Only, they never make it to Moscow, instead the four friends are joined by two other travellers, Zoe and Michael, and together they head off for a spot of ‘Extreme Tourism’ to Pripyat, the town close to Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Led by a tour guide, Uri, the intrepid travellers discover that the supposed abandoned town is anything but.

I admit to being hopeful but with modest expectations as I sat down to watch Chernobyl Diaries. The movie opens promisingly with video footage of Natalie (Olivia Dudley), Chris (Jesse McCartney) and Amanda (Devin Kelley) enjoying their tour of Europe, before joining Chris’s brother Paul (Jonathan Sadowski) in Kiev. The opening sets up the relationships between the four main characters nicely, and – when Chris confides in Paul that he is going to ask Natalie to marry him when they reach Moscow – makes it quite clear what the characters stand to lose when the radioactive horror strikes.

The acting is good, the characters are likeable, the film has a modern, energetic feel and is well shot … buuuuuut … I couldn’t help feeling like I had seen it all before, only in a different setting. Dumb kids making dumb decisions … Who wants to go to Moscow as planned … aaaaand who wants to head to the creepy old town that has been abandoned for 25 years with Uri (Dimitri Diatchenko) the ‘Extreme Tour Guide’ in his dodgy old van? And the breaking of horror’s cardinal sins does not end there … the group – now joined by young couple Zoe (Ingrid Bolso Berdal) and Michael (Nathan Phillips) – proceed to ignore warnings from the check point guards to stay away from the town, and, when finding themselves stranded in the town after the van is sabotaged, do annoying things like split up and head off into the deep dark woods to ‘investigate’.

One by one, the group are picked off by unseen foes, discovering mutant flesh eating fish, wild dogs and a ‘radioactive bear from Hell’ along the way. There is limited gore, but there is tension and it really isn’t a bad film. I don’t have anything terrible to say about it. But it offers nothing new to the genre and, for me, failed to reach its potential. I found myself on the verge of fear a couple of times but the movie didn’t deliver and my fear subsided, or, like reactor number 4, it ‘became one with the air’, in other words, my fear vaporised.

Seeing as I started with modest expectations, I can honestly say I wasn’t left overly disappointed … just a little uninspired.

Rating:- 3 out of 5
By Lisa Richardson

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