You’ve seen this sort of thing before — just not set in such an unusual locale.
“Chernobyl Diaries” delivers on atmosphere — at least, during the first half of the film. That’s not surprising considering that Oren Peli of “Paranormal Activity” fame (and, yes, the fourth chapter of that franchise is on its way) is a producer of this one.
Otherwise, it’s pretty much a standard stalk ‘n’ slash.
The plot centers on four good-looking young Americans (two other folks are added for good measure a little further into the story) who are traveling abroad. We see them taking typical tourist photos and video in London, for example.
Brothers Paul (Jonathan Sadowski) and Chris (Jesse McCartney), along with Chris’ girlfriend Natalie (Olivia Taylor Dudley) and her friend Amanda (Devin Kelley) decide to take up an offer from an “extreme tourism” guide and go to Pripyat, where they are supposed to visit the abandoned area near the Chernobyl nuclear plant. (Pripyat’s residents had to leave in 1986 during a ghastly nuclear catastrophe, the effects of which are still being studied.)
The group’s tour guide Uri (Dimitri Diatchenko) takes them to the abandoned city, where they take photos and note the absence of birds in the skies and trees. Uri tells them “nature has taken over,” but they still are surprised to see wild animals and an unusual-looking fish that startles them.
Uri even takes them into the buildings where people once lived and worked. The group stands on a balcony where they see the reactor site and they stand by the iconic Ferris wheel in an abandoned playground. The tourists are fascinated and saddened by what occurred there and decide to leave before nightfall.
Problem is (and I’ll be you already have guessed this), Uri can’t get the van started. And as the gloom turns into darkness, they all begin to realize that there’s Something out there.
My husband, who is an admitted fan of the horror movie genre, saw the show with me and guessed within one minute who the survivor might be as well as several scenes that would occur. The ending is just moronic. Had it not been for the first half or so, the wrap-up would have delivered a “zero-stars” blow to what precedes it.
The location is interesting and compelling. As for the story itself, it’s not worth noting.