How far would you go for a good time? What would be the line that you would not cross in order to have a once in a life time experience? If we are alone and confronted with a question like this, more times than not we are going to make the safe decision and pass on something that we don’t feel completely comfortable with. Although the temptation to experience something cool may be strong, we tend to feel more vulnerable when we are alone and would therefore most likely steer clear of something that may sound a little bit sketchy. In a group of friends, however, things are different. We naturally feel safer in numbers and sometimes just don’t want to be the one that looks “chicken” in front of our peers. In this situation the chance is much greater that we will just throw caution to the wind in order to have a great time. Safety in numbers right? Not in Horror movies. If films like Hostel and Taken didn’t do enough to warn you that young people should never trust anybody when travelling over seas, Chernobyl Diaries does its part to hammer that message just a little deeper into our brains.
Six tourists in Russia come together at the office of an “extreme tour guide” named Uri (Diatchenko), who is going to take them to the deserted city of Pripyat, the former home to workers of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. The town had to be abandoned at moments notice and now all of the buildings and homes stand vacant with much of the people’s belongings still inside. Recently the radiation levels have gone down enough where tourists can go in safely to explore the vacant catacombs. Uri and the six young people enter into the city for what is supposed to be a once in a life time guided tour experience when they quickly learn that maybe the town isn’t completely vacant after all. It becomes clear that someone doesn’t want them there, but also doesn’t want them to leave.
Let’s start by talking about what Chernobyl Diaries does right. First off it does have some scares and jump out of your seat moments. Truthfully you see most of them coming but they still manage to get you anyway. The threat never really comes into the light and in my opinion it is much scarier when you can’t really see what is trying to kill you. Freddy Krueger was way more frightening in the first Nightmare film when he stayed in the shadows than he was in later films when you saw him in the light. Keeping the threat in this film shrouded in darkness and only giving you little glimpses adds to the feeling of tension and dread throughout the film. What I feel this film does wrong is they actually made the “heroes” a little dumber than usual. Yes, I understand that part of the fun of Horror films is yelling at the screen “Don’t go in there you dumbass!” but it seems to be a bit excessive just how many stupid decisions these people make. There is very little characterization in this story and although you do want the cast to survive it doesn’t really affect you too much when they don’t. (That is not a spoiler, it is a Horror movie, you KNOW people are gonna die.) There are no standout performances here as this film truthfully isn’t about that. Chernobyl Diaries is a simple, straight forward Horror flick that will entertain you if that is what you are in the mood to see. It is fun at parts but not one you will be talking about or hoping for a sequel to a year from now. I recommend waiting for DVD/Blu-Ray and watching it in a dark house alone with a bowl of popcorn. This movie is much more suited for that type of experience as opposed to a trip to the cinema.