Thursday, May 31, 2012

Film Review: Chernobyl Diaries

I really have no one to blame but myself.  No one assigned this film to me.  I was not paid by any outlet to review this movie.  No one challenged me to see it.  No one dared me either.  No no no.  Not me.  I decided of my own free will and rather stupid volition to pay good money to see this film - knowing full well that what I was going to get would inevitably be something in the range of terrible to godawful.  Well guess what?  Yeah, I only have myself to blame.

With expectations quite low (and again, only myself to blame) I went to see this film and believe me when I say my expectations were indeed met.  This is the story of a group of genre-appropriately stupid twentysomethings who decide it would be a good idea to get in a van with a shady Ukrainian guy named Yuri and sneak into the abandoned Chernobyl nuclear facility for a tour.  Well guess what?  Yeah, that's right.  Let's just say it doesn't go quite as planned.  All the tricks and tropes of the genre are here.  Van doesn't start when they try to leave.  Creepy shadows in windows.  Strange noises that the characters go toward instead of run away from.  Creepy tour guide goes missing.  Dissension in the ranks.  A brother trying to prove himself.  More creepy shadows and noises.  Flesh-eating beasties.  It is all here, as is the eventual picking off one by one of these aforementioned genre-appropriate idiot twentysomethings, but none of it ever manages to scare and/or titillate for even a quick token moment.

We never get anything new or fresh here.  It is all pretty standard boilerplate stuff.  And therein lies the problem with the film.  A better script, with some more interesting characters and more interesting ways to die could have saved this film from the mediocrity it currently wallows in.  Sure, we can get past the inherent stupidity of the characters.  Kids are supposed to do stupid things in the horror genre.  They are supposed to go into the creepy attic.  They are supposed to split up and head to the woods to have sex.  We expect nothing less.  But the problem here is not the stupidity of breaking into a radioactive-laden abandoned nuke plant - we would be disappointed if they did not do such - it is how ordinary everything that comes after ends up being.  With no real imagination, first time director Bradley Parker and writer Oren Peli of Paranormal Activity "fame", hand us the blandest horror movie West of the Pecos.  Well, like I said earlier - I only have myself to blame.


Candice Frederick said...

dang, i so wanted this to be good.

Kevyn Knox said...

Me too. Me too.