ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel
  • »
  • Entertainment and Media»
  • Movies & Movie Reviews

Carl the Critic: Talks About "Chernobyl Diaries" [Caution: May Contain Spoilers]

Updated on September 25, 2012


So I was on my way out of the theater, all satisfied (because I just watched "Snow White and the Huntsman") when suddenly I noticed that there was a huge thunderstorm. I was stuck at the cinema, and I had no ride to go back to my place. I decided that I could watch one more movie, so I turned to see what was playing and-

it wasn't pretty


So yeah, this was the only film showing at the time and I went to go see it. Also I should mention that the film I saw was subtitled for the hearing impaired so it made me feel like I was watching a foreign language film.

Now most of you are thinking, "you didn't have to watch the movie!" and you're right, I didn't have to, but it was raining so hard, there was thunder and lightning in the sky, I had no idea how long it was going to last so I did watch it. Some of you are wondering, "why not watch 'Men in Black 3'?" "Men in Black 3" was not playing at the time, no other movie was playing at this time, and only "Chernobyl Diaries" was playing at the time.

I had no prior knowledge of the Chernobyl disaster of 1986, but I have a basic understanding. Chernobyl is a city in the Ukraine that had a nuclear accident causing radioactive materials into the atmosphere and contaminating at least 13 countries including Sweden and Finland (the land of my ancestors). The radiation was so bad that it had cost the lives of many people (I will post links to charity sites relating to the incident below), and to this day I am not entirely certain that it's safe to even go there for a visit.

According to this film however, not only could you visit there, you can play in the water, touch dead contaminated animals, and you might even run into a CGI bear while you are visiting. Perhaps I am getting a head of myself; let's start with this film's story.


Four American's are touring Europe, and their next stop is Moscow when one idiot, named Paul, suggests, "Hey, you guys hear of Chernobyl? The place that had that nuclear accident that made it completely unlivable, let's go visit it!"

Although Jesse McCarthy protests and says, "No let's go to Moscow", everyone else seems to want to go to Chernobyl, with a tour guide that Paul apparently just met before breakfast. The Tour Guide, Uri, takes them and a... British couple? At least I think they're British, the film seems to assume that you'd figure out who everyone is with little to no development at all. Any way We have our four Americans, our two possibly British people, and a fellow... Ukrainian? I am not entirely sure if this guy really is Ukrainian or Russian but again, the film expects you to figure this out on your own, but anyway all seven people go in Uri's kick ass van and head to Chernobyl. They are about to enter into the abandoned city, but apparently guards are blocking the entrance saying that it's closed for "maintenance". I'm sorry I didn't that Chernobyl was an amusement park, why does it need maintenance? Oh well, our seven characters find a way into Chernobyl that isn't guarded by the Ukrainian army (which makes no sense, why aren't they guarding every possible entrance to this place?) and so now they are in the abandoned city, looking at the skyline, playing with the water, touching dead things, I think one character is about to eat radioactive cheese at one point, and other B.S. things American tourist are known for doing.


You may notice that this film has a lot of problems with its story, from the very beginning. There are a lot of plot hole, and a lack of organized direction. The cinematography makes "The Hunger Games" look like "Citizen Kane", which isn't a good thing (this film had a camera operator who apparently had mussel spasm, judging by the way the camera kept jerking every five seconds). I wasn't drawn into the film's atmosphere, you would think that a horror film about Chernobyl would make it's setting more haunting.

"Chernobyl Diaries" is another film to add to a list of movies that suffer from "Book of Shadows: Blaire Witch 2" Syndrome, because there is nothing about this film that resembles a "diary" in the film's story structure. Many people I assume might have been expecting this to be like "The Blaire Witch Project", "Cloverfield", "Paranormal Activity", or "REC", where the film is shot in a shockumentary style, but it isn't. In many ways I wish it had, not because I like those kinds of movies ("REC" is my favorite of the shocumentary genre) but that would make this film more of a diary structured film.

You know, some people ask me from time to time "besides for gore, what is wrong with many modern horror films?" Now I can just point to "Chernobyl Diaries" and say "well pretty much that". The story is horribly structured, nothings is developed enough, the ending doesn't make me feel anything, and the creatures of the film are virtually never seen. The things we do see are horribly rendered; you would never have guessed that the director of this film had a special effects background (for films like “Fight Club”, or “Let Me In”).

"Chernobyl Diaries" seems to be in the same school of thought as "The Woman in Black" where the way you make your monsters scary is by not completely showing them. However, "The Woman in Black" was a much better film because you understood more about what the hell is going on, and you actually cared about the characters. If we didn't care about Arthur from "The Woman in Black", we would not be as scared, we would want him dead from frame one. And that is one of the many things wrong with "Chernobyl Diaries", because not enough is explained about our characters, we don't really care about them, or the monsters that kill them. The ending tries to wrap everything all up, by saying "Oh yeah, these monsters are mutations that escaped and now we have captured back, and now we feed you to them" the end, but I'm sorry that doesn't cut it for me.

On a brighter note, the acting was actually okay, but the fact that the film had horrible dialogue/writing from start to finish, made it really hard to like the characters. A horror film about the Chernobyl disaster is kind of clever, maybe with a bit of spit and polish this film could have been a descent, thought provoking film about the dangers of nuclear power, the dangers of radioactive materials, if we don't learn from the mistakes from our past we would be doomed to repeat them- In fact wait a minute, wasn't there a similar incident in Japan last year? You could connect the two or even had one in the US to show that the same thing could happen here! There are many routes one could take here, and instead of trying this film just gives us a half-assed horror film with wasted acting talents and a wasted opportunity to create something deep, thought provoking, and inspiring.


Horrible, absolutely horrible, and hopefully forgettable, my rating for “Chernobyl Diaries” is a 0.4 out of 10.

What About You?

If you've seen "Chernobyl Diaries", what did you think?

See results


This article was written and edited by Carl the Critic © 2012


    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment

    • profile image

      Elaine 2 years ago

      Ended up watching the movie after ordering it at our library. I am fascinated with abandoned places, can remember when Chernobyl blew. I enjoyed the 5-10 minutes of the movie that showed the abandoned city of Pripyat, the Ferris wheel, the apartment. That left a lot of time to try to figure out what was going on. I am not a fan of the Blair Witch school of film making; I don't enjoy a screen to dark to figure out what's going on, accompanied by a jiggly picture that gets me motion sick. This could have worked as an episode of xfiles, maybe, if the writers and director had submitted this rough draft and had a chance to clean it up. Thanks for your review.

    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      Carl 5 years ago

      I'm glad to hear from you rahul0324, if you are still interested in it, wait for it to come out on Netfix or Red Box so you can rent it. I don't feel like it's worth a ticket price. Thanks for the comment :)

    • rahul0324 profile image

      Jessee R 5 years ago from Gurgaon, India

      I was going to see it with a slight deal of interest... Now after your review... I will ponder little over buying the DVD even LOL

      Great review as always Carl.. thanks for saving some of my bucks :D

    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      Carl 5 years ago

      @FatFreddysCat: For me this was just barely watchable, and I feel like it could have been a much better film. They took an opportunity to make something special, and interesting and instead just made a silly monster movie. Again, the acting was alright, and the idea of a horror film based around the Chernobyl disaster if done right could have been good but sadly this film wasn't. Thanks for the comment :)

      @fromMarkHall: I'm not sure if this was properly edited, some scenes made no sense and some cuts were very sloppy. Thanks for the comment :)

    • fromMarkHall profile image

      fromMarkHall 5 years ago

      They must've edited all the really bad stuff out and left in only the stuff left. Thanks.

    • FatFreddysCat profile image

      Keith Abt 5 years ago from The Garden State

      Dang! This one's really that bad huh? The trailers looked promising, and I like the idea behind it...sounds like they took a cool concept and screwed it up. Oh well. Maybe I'll check it out when it hits RedBox. Nice one, Carl.

    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      Carl 5 years ago

      Well I appreciate your criticism Eric, it is a good one. The style in which I write my hubs is a natural style, in other words I write exactly as I would say it. This is mostly due to my film background of writing dialogue for scripts, which isn't professional in a film review (Roger Ebert is not going to write "So yeah this movie sucked" in his review) but it's what I'm comfortable with.

      You are the first person to ever have issue with it, and because I care about my readers I will definitely be more careful. Thank you very much I greatly appreciate your insight :)

    • Eric Prado profile image

      Eric Prado 5 years ago from Webster, Texas

      Interesting hub. I only want to see this film because I remember when that happened, but if I may just offer one bit of advice. Try not to start a hub or any publication wit "So yeah". It only tarnishes your credibility. Other than that good hub and voted up. =)

    • CarltheCritic1291 profile image

      Carl 5 years ago

      Thank you very much Lesleysherwood, I had watched a very good documentary on the Chernobyl disaster called "The Battle of Chernobyl". The Chernobyl disaster was before my time so I had no knowledge about what happen, however when I heard about Japan, and I saw the trailer for this film it made me more and more interested in the subject. I’m glad my writing makes you want to see the films, it really means a lot to me ? Thanks for stopping by and it’s great to hear from you.

      Definitely check out "The Woman in Black", it's one of the best horror films of the year (in my opinion).

    • profile image

      Lesleysherwood 5 years ago

      Do you know something Carl - I rarely go to the cinema, but when ever I read one of your reviews you make me want to. You have done it again, not for "Chernobyl Diaries", for "The Woman in Black". Also thank you for being so candidly honest about "Chernobyl Diaries". The title makes me want to see it purely because of the history and remembering the disaster and even though I trust your judgement and know I wont enjoy it judging from your comments, my morbid curiosity still has that desire. Thank you again for such great writing.