CHERNOBYL DIARIES (18)
D: Brad Parker
Warner Bros/Alcon/Filmnation (Oren Peli & Brian Witten)
USA 🇺🇸 2012
W: Oren Peli, Carey Van Dyke & Shane Van Dyke
DP: Morten Søborg
Ed: Stan Stalfas
Mus: Diego Stocco
Jonathan Sadowski (Paul), Jesse McCartney (Chris), Devin Kelley (Amanda), Olivia Taylor Dudley (Natalie), Ingrid Bolsø Berdal (Zoe), Nathan Phillips (Michael), Dimitri Diatchenko (Uri)
The opening scene to this horror movie hints that it's another "found footage" shockumentary in the vein of The Blair Witch Project, but it's just cheap production values and photography for another kids-lost-in-the-woods scary movie.
It's a shame, since the premise here had some very good potential; while sightseeing across Europe, a group of American tourists visit the abandoned town of Pripyat, on the outskirts of Chernobyl Nuclear power station, evacuated following the 1986 disaster and left as a ghost town since. The kids soon find themselves stranded in the city when their van breaks down and discover that they are not alone and their co-habitants are not very friendly.
It's a huge shame that this couldn't have been a better film, since the stark landscape of the deserted city deserved a much better movie. Instead, it settles on the usual horror tropes where the protagonists make stupid decisions to serve a string of jump scares, along with the usual surprise ending which isn't even a surprise anymore, since every single "found footage" movie ends in similar fashion. This isn't a found footage movie, but it was certainly intended to be one, and it's obvious that the screenplay went through a lot of re-writes during production which leave a lot of loose ends and nothing much explained.
From a business point of view, I can understand why these films are rushed into and through production ($37m back off a $1m budget), but why can't the filmmakers just have a little bit more respect for their audience?