Reed Alexander's Horror Review of 'Chernobyl Diaries' (2012)
Not a Diary...
Can we really call this Chernobyl Diaries? It's a one shot. And while it's in the spirit of shaky camera found footage, it's not. So what about this movie inspired the producer to add 'Diaries' to the title? Semantics...
Yeah, it was a okay though. Nothing ground breaking but definitely worth the watch. I do appreciate that this movie went for the feel of shaky camera without actually stooping to the level of that hack bullshit. If you remember my review of Banshee Chapters there's something quite nice about shooting the movie as though it's intended to be found footage, without having some frantic fucking prats constantly tripping over his own fucking feet. These sort of hybrid films almost give the sensation that there's a mute protagonist following around the rest of the group wit a Go Pro glued to his forehead. I think this helps immersion because you, the audience, almost feel like you could be that silent protagonist. This really provides all the good parts about shaky camera's atmosphere without adding too much of the garbage.
The acting was okay. It was on par with most horror. There was a few moments when some of the characters were having a hard time selling their lines. Eventually they picked it up towards the end. The story is non existent. What do you want though? A pack of unsuspecting tourist get trapped in Pripyat and then start dying. Horror doesn't necessarily need lots of story. They throw in some things like family tension between two brothers, and of course blooming relationships, yada yada yada.
I do appreciate the fact that none of the characters were too tropey and still managed to be relatable. That's hard to pull off. Cliches are often necessary to quickly introduce the characters without exposition. However, it tends to get overused and often murders the viewers investment in the victims.
MUTANT HUMANOID CANNIBALS!!! FUUUCK YEEEAH!!! Not that this was really surprising. I'd have been disappointed if the characters just got picked off by radioactive animals. It seemed like they were trying to convince the audience that wild animals were the only issue but I just wasn't having any of it. I was expecting anything from mutants to zombies to some sort of weird radioactive hillbilly cult. Which ever, punks were getting eaten.
There are some things I didn't really like about the setting. The threat of radioactivity was never consistent or accurate. Did the writer/director not realize that a Geiger counter is designed to constantly emit warnings of rising radioactivity levels? In the movie, it just goes off, seemingly randomly. Of course, this is used to redirect the protagonists from escape, but at least they could have done it right. And clearly, they didn't do any research for the production. The radioactivity is lowest on the pavement where sometimes they'd have it read the highest, and downright deadly too far away from the pavement. In fact, the radioactivity near the plant is so high, you would melt in minutes. Here, the characters just start to experience burns and boils. But like all horror, suspend your disbelieve at least a little.
So, say it with me now, in your best Morbo impression "THERE WERE NO SURVIVORS!!!" Though I don't really get the ending. If the government knew they couldn't have witnesses, why not just shoot both the male AND female survivor? Instead they just shoot the male and feed the female to a bunch of captured mutants. I mean, it would have been cool if they eluded to her turning into one of them but that's not the direction they took. It just didn't make any sense.
But yeah, this is worth a watch.