Carl the Critic: Talks About "Chernobyl Diaries" [Caution: May Contain Spoilers]
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.
Chernobyl Disaster Awareness
- Friends of Chernobyl Centers, U.S. Index
Friends of Chernobyl Centers, U.S. (FOCCUS), is a Madison, Wisconsin, based non-profit organization engaged in supporting a network of community centers located in Chernobyl affected areas in Ukraine and Russia.
What About You?
If you've seen "Chernobyl Diaries", what did you think?
This article was written and edited by Carl the Critic © 2012 HubPages.com