Monday, January 21, 2013
Chernobyl Diaries (2012)
While I am known more for watching and reviewing "older" horror films (anything made before 2001), I do manage to catch the opportunity to watch more recent fare...
While visiting his brother in Russia, Chris and his friends decide to visit the abandoned town of Prypiat- near the site of the infamous Chernobyl nuclear meltdown. Upon arrival, the group find themselves trapped in the radiation zone... trapped with something stalking them through the empty streets...
I had high hopes for this film, as the Writer/Producer Oren Peli also brought us the very well done low budget film, "Paranormal Activity". While the film is quite good from a technical and visual aspect, it lacks something that the first "Paranormal Activity" had- a connection with the audience.
The premise was promising. Take our characters and strand them in the middle of a radioactive city with something that is hunting and killing them one by one. Unfortunately, beyond that, there isn't much of a story. No real exploration of the characters, or the story behind the Chernobyl meltdown. Those two elements would've helped to add a bit of depth to the characters and the storyline.
Because there isn't really much done to give the characters depth, I found it hard to connect to them emotionally, and feel anything when they got knocked off. I found Chris to be whiny, as I did Zoe. I found Michael to be boring, which was the same problem with Natalie. I found Paul (Chris's brother) to be simply a douche bag. I liked Amanda, but was disappointed that- like the other characters, she was developed properly. Of the characters, the only one I really liked was the tour guide Yuri. Him, I was sad to see die. Beyond that, I was rather indifferent to the fate of the characters.
The acting was good, for the most part. Jonathan Sadowski as Paul, Devin Kelley as Amanda, and Dimitri Diatchenko as Yuri, were quite good. The remaining cast could be described as average for their characters.
The strength of this film is the camera work. There are some beautiful shots throughout the whole movie. The image at the top of this review for instance, reminded me of what the abandoned Tranquille Facility here in town looks like (it's supposed to be haunted no less), and helped to creep me out a bit. The lighting is really well done and helps to create a good atmosphere, and brings tension to the scares. Unfortunately, the scares are mostly of the "jump scare" variety that wears thin after awhile.
I would certainly suggest "Chernobyl Diaries" to friends for a watching, though I wouldn't re-watch it myself. I'm placing it in The Bad.