I sat down for Chernobyl Diaries excited to see something new from Oren Peli. Unfortunately, the movie is not directed by Oren Peli. Chernobyl Diaries smartly (or sneakily) used Peli’s name to promote the film to maximize profit, and although it is based on his screenplay the final product feels like it didn’t quite understand Peli’s style.
Hit the jump to read what Chernobyl Diaries succeeded at and where it terribly failed.
Brad Parker made the jump from visual effects artist to director in Chernobyl Diaries, making this his directorial debut. I was very excited for the premise. I felt Chernobyl was a fresh location for a horror movie and could lend itself to a lot of original scares.
Really though, 90% of the good scares are used in the trailer. Don’t you hate it when that happens?
The story is a guy (Jesse McCartney) and his girlfriend are touring Europe with their friend. They are also hanging out with the main characters older, irresponsible, thrill-seeking brother who has been estranged from the rest of his family. They hang out and have a good time and are planning on seeing Moscow (where Jesse McCartney’s character plans on proposing), but the irresponsible brother is like, “Nah, I found a shady guy who will take us to Chernobyl. You know the place where the nuclear reactor went off and it is really unsafe to go to? Yea, there. Lets go!” Everyone thinks this will be fun and much cooler than going to Moscow. Everyone is dumb.
But before they leave two other thrill-seekers join their party to come with. That’s all you need to know about any of these characters. Names and backgrounds are unimportant as they are the clichés of clichés. They are simply there to die.
During all this incredibly boring set up, the camera never wanders far from the blonde girls cleavage. I am not exaggerating. Her boobs are dead center for almost 30 minutes. I imagine the camera man was just really horny, but it was pretty blatant.
So… they finally arrive and set up a great atmosphere with the opportunity for so much. It just never delivers, aside from one initially clever scare. The movie then just turns into a non-stop sprint, where they are picked off one by one in terribly cliché and boring ways. And then the ending… my god the ending is bad. It felt like one of M Night Shamalans ideas except much worse (which is probably hard to imagine).
Where the movie succeeded was in quality cinematography (aside from all the boob meat), a good soundtrack, and production value. None of these is enough to save its paper thin story, shallow characters, and lack of originality. It’s a polished turd. It wouldn’t be so bad if it didn’t have such a promising location. I wish it had been a better movie and I had more to say about it, but….