Chris and his girfriend Natalie are touring Europe with Amanda. Before they head to Moscow, they visit Chris’ older brother Paul in Kiev who writes them up for a round of “extreme tourism”. Together with another couple that signed up for the tour they head out, lead by tour guide Uri, to the abandoned city of Pripyat near the nuclear reactor of Chernobyl.
On the way to the city they get halted at a roadblock by soldiers who say that temporarily nobody is allowed to proceed further, but Uri knows a way to circumvent the soldiers and as such they do arrive at their destination and get to explore the surroundings unhindered. However, when they return to the car by night, Uri’s van seems to have broken down. A quick inspection reveals that the van was actually sabotages. Pripyat isn’t as abandoned as one would think…
Chernobyl Diaries is written by Oren Peli who previously delivered Paranormal Activity so you quickly expect a high dose of tension and that expectation indeed gets fulfilled. Sadly enough it’s not quite original and some of the scares seem to have come straight out of other movies. Only the scene with the bear that pops up in an appartment building can be seen as a good new finding. For the rest we get the usual night time shocks where enemies tend to pop out of nowhere, mutants that pass by in the corner of your eye, and a small child that’s being used as a decoy to kidnap one of the lead characters.
It may sound quite negative but don’t let that turn you away. Chernobyl Diaries treads well-known paths a bit too much but does it in a good way, making it a still very entertaining experience. You know what’s going to happen, you can imagine the ending, and the characters are hardly noteworthy, but the movie does manage to cluster you to the screen and this is mostly thanks to the bizarre and desolate environment as well as the good work from the director who pumps up the speed just enough each time the movie starts to slow down. No top title, but definitely one to check out.
Chernobyl Diaries doesn’t look pretty but that’s not the intention of the makers. Colors are bleached, skin tones look sick and there’s a general lacking of sharpness, but this is all exactly as how the makers intended. As such, we can’t complain about the transfer, even if it’s all but demo-material. A similar comment can be given about the sound: the silence in the rear gets noticed but this is to emphasize the emptyness of the city and as such again intentional. A bit less intentional, however, is that when the rears do come to life, they miss a sense of direction. All in all the rear channels and subwoofer could have gotten a bit more attention.