Warning: Contains spoilers
Chernobyl Diaries is a horror film released in 2012 and was written by Oren Peli, the same guy who wrote and directed Paranormal Activity. The story follows a group of friends on a trip across Europe. They travel to Ukraine and go on a extreme tourism trip to the town of Pripyat where workers of the Chernobyl power plant lived. While they are there, they soon learn they are not alone in the “abandoned” town.
First, for those that are unfamiliar, let me write a bit about the real Chernobyl disaster. The disaster occurred on April 26, 1986 in Ukraine at the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. During a test at reactor number 4 at the power plant, a power surge occurred. An emergency shutdown was attempted, but caused a larger spike in power output which led to a reactor vessel rupture. A fire was started and that sent a large plume of highly radioactive fallout into the air over a large area, which included the town of Pripyat. This disaster is considered to be one of the worst nuclear power plant accidents in history. The residents of Pripyat were not immediately evacuated. It wasn’t until an announcement the next day did people begin to evacuate. 237 people suffered from acute radioactive sickness and of those 237 people 31 of them died. There are still long term effects being accounted for, such as cancer and deformities. Today, the area is still radioactive.
Site of the real Chernobyl after the disaster
Now, about the movie. Well, let me just start off with saying this wasn’t the worst scary movie I’ve seen, but it definitely wasn’t the best. There were some things about the film that I liked. I really liked the setting. There is just something about abandoned places that I think are really cool. So, to have the film set in an abandoned town, especially one that is actually real, is something I thought was pretty cool. I liked the fact that the film uses a real life disaster, something that most people learned about in school, as a backdrop for the movie. The film was filmed in Serbia and Hungary, so they didn’t actually film at the real Chernobyl, but I can see why they wouldn’t, considering that would be dangerous. At first I was intrigued to find out what would end up happening to the characters and what was stalking the characters. The characters in the film are: Chris (Jesse McCartney), Paul (Jonathan Sadowski), Amanda (Devin Kelley), Natalie (Olivia Taylor Dudley), Michael (Nathan Phillips), Zoe (Ingrid Bolso Berdal), and Uri (Dimitri Diatchenko).
From left: Zoe, Michael, Paul, Uri, Amanda, Natalie, and Chris.
Chris, his girlfriend Natalie, and Amanda are on a trip across Europe. They stop in Kiev, Ukraine to see Chris’s brother, Paul, who lives in Kiev. While in Ukraine, Paul convinces everyone to go on an extreme tourism trip to Pripyat. They visit a tour guide, Uri, and are joined by another couple, Zoe and Michael. They head to Pripyat and that is where the adventure begins…
The problem (or actually problems) I had with this film are extensive. First off, there are so many plot holes that I won’t even bother describing all of them. The creatures that are terrorizing the group are mutated freak beings (a lot of people say the creatures are zombies). You never really get a real clear look at the creatures, which might add to the mystery and leave it to the imagination of the viewer, but at the same time I really wanted to see what the creatures looked like. There are some dumb decisions made by the characters, but in horror movies there tends to always be at least one character that does stupid stuff. This is also one of those movies where no one survives. Uri is the first to go, which I was actually disappointed about. I kind of would have like to see him kick some mutated ass before being killed off. I mean, the guy is huge! He could have been a badass character, but pretty much all the characters are “weak”. I was surprised that Chris gets injured early on in the film and ends up dying. We never actually see his body, but as the viewer you pretty much come to the conclusion that he died, which he had a badly injured leg, so it’s not like he would have gotten very far. When the movie first started out, I figured Chris and either his girlfriend or his brother would have made it to the end of the film. Instead, Paul and Amanda are the last ones left standing…that is until Paul gets shot.
The ending of the movie is something that I know a lot of people had problems with and totally hated. I have to agree with all those other people. At the end, Paul and Amanda were exposed really badly to radiation after being right by the reactor that blew up. We see a bunch of lights and realize that it is Ukrainian military personnel. The military tell them both to stop and not come any closer. Paul had already been complaining about not being able to see, so even though he is being told to stop, he still continues to stumble forward and then is shot dead. I really hated the way he died. Out of the characters he was one that I somewhat cared about and for him to survive as long as he did and then just get shot was disappointing in my opinion. Amanda crawls toward Paul’s body and then she passes out. She wakes up inside what looks like an ambulance and then we see her being pushed on a gurney asking where she is. Doctors in hazmat suits tell her she is in a hospital. We learn that the creatures were escaped patients who have been recaptured. The doctors realize that all her friends are dead and that she knows too much, so they toss her into a cell. She gets attacked by a bunch of the mutant creatures. The end.
I wanted to know more about these “patients” and why they were all mutated and roaming all around the town. I mean, there appeared to be A LOT of them, so wouldn’t that have taken forever to recapture them all? I guess I wish the film had some more back story, maybe via flashbacks. The film had a lot of potential and there are definitely a lot of things that could have been executed differently. Rotten Tomatoes gave this film a 20% and IMDb has it at a average 5 out of 10 stars. I give it about a 5 out of 10 too. Will I ever watch this movie again? Maybe. Maybe I’ll watch with some friends who haven’t seen it, but I don’t think this is a film I will choose to watch again on my own and I definitely will not be buying this movie to own.