Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Chernobyl Diaries (2012)

Directed by Bradley Parker

After Paranormal Activity 2 almost killed his credibility according to many reviewers and genre fans, Peli comes back as the writer of a film he wanted to have made instead of countless Paranormal sequels. The result is Chernobyl Diaries, which is actually not another found footage entry as the trailer made it out to seem. This is a third person flick full of edge of your seat suspense and director Bradley Parker is up to the task in successfully bring it all from script to screen.

A foursome of brothers, a fiancĂ© and a potential love interest (Jonathan Sadowski, Jesse McCartney, Devin Kelley, and Olivia Dudley) are on an international excursion when the thrill-seeking Paul (Sadowski) signs the reluctant group up for something called “Extreme Sightseeing”. Their tour guide Uri (Dimitri Diatchenko), sneaks them and another couple (Ingrid Bolso Berdal and Nathan Phillips) into a small town near Chernobyl, where it has been several years since the tragic nuclear meltdown occurred and the radiation has subsided enough for humans to explore the area.

After a day of exploring, night falls and trouble comes along with it. When the tour guide disappears and younger brother Chris (McCartney) is injured to the point where he can no longer walk, the rest of the group seeks out the now-missing Uri with the hope that he is still alive to guide them to safety. But many hurdles are in their path and they have no idea just what exactly they are up against. Are their assailants ghosts, mutated zombies, or what? This review says no more or it’s going to spoil all the surprises.

This film was trashed by critics and many horror fans, but there is no real justification for it. Maybe people just like to hate on mainstream horror films nowadays. The film was entertaining, suspenseful and really holds your attention if you sit back and watch with an open mind. It should not be crowned the King of 2012 Horror Films or anything like that, but it definitely is an above average flick that proves Peli is not a one-hit wonder and his creativity extends beyond the found footage subgenre. 

The plot appears cookie cutter plot and yet you will probably think you will have everything figured out early on, but you are guaranteed to be surprised by what happens in the final act. In fact, the only gripe with the film is the final seconds, but by that time you are still reeling from the crazy rollercoaster ride you just endured.

Even the mainly unknown cast was spectacular. For example, if anyone can cast Jesse McCartney in a large role and not have him be annoying when it was almost guaranteed that he was going to be from the get-go, then you know Parker has serious directing ability. In fact, this should be considered a breakout role for all the thespians involved.

These Diaries are probably better enjoyed with the big screen/crowd effect, but since this review is late to the dance, make sure to catch it on DVD when it is released. You might actually have some fun watching a nice popcorn flick and be given some thrills and chills along the way.





Chuck said...

This movie looks a little creepy to me, since it could really have happened after the radiation leak! And my wife has no intrest...

allison said...

I saw this as the first movie of a drive-in double feature. I couldn't follow it and hated that so much of the film is dark - I guess so anything would be scary, but I never jumped. The ending... I didn't get. Mostly because I had no clue what was going on throughout the movie, but I couldn't stand it.

The Man-Cave said...

Chuck - it's worth a watch, but now it will have to wait until DVD.

allison - what's up?!! Sorry you hated it, but you are so lucky to have a drive-in around you. Saw one in WI and became very jealous. What was the second movie on the bill you saw after Diaries?

James Aach said...

I wouldn't treat anything the film says about Chernobyl and radiation as anything but a way to setup the suspense. It's not a documentary.

FYI: If you would like an easy-to-read look at the real Chernobyl tragedy (who wouldn't?), there are a few chapters in my free techno-thriller novel "Rad Decision" which tell the story in a way that allows a lay person to folllow along and understand what the real problems were. The book is free online (no advertisements or sponsors) at http://RadDecision.blogspot.com , with the Chernobyl section linked at the homepage. I work in the US nuclear industry, which I suppose gives me some credibility for explaining this.

allison said...

It wasn't bad to sit through since we could talk and make up new dialogue for it! I actually liked Blair Witch and movies that this one reminded me of, but just didn't like how dark everything was in this one - too hard to see what was going on. The 2nd movie was Dark Shadows. I guess that was supposed to be a little scary too, since they were on the same bill? But it was mostly just funny. And having a drive-in is AWESOME. Definitely want to go back.

The Man-Cave said...

James - well I would say something of substance back to you, but since you are not a follower and have never visited my site, I figured you just came here to ad-spam your site in my comments section. So thanks...???

Allison - haven't seen Dark Shadows yet, but seeing anything at the drive-in is a bonus.

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