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DVD Review

DVD cover

Chernobyl Diaries


Starring: Jesse McCartney, Jonathan Sadowski and Olivia Dudley
RRP: £17.99
Certificate: 15
Available 22 October 2012

Two teenage girls and a boy are touring Europe, taking in London (they stand in front of Tower Bridge and say, “Here we are at the Tower of London.” Hmm.), Paris, Venice and other locations. They arrive in Kiev, Russia, and meet up with the boy’s brother, who tells them he knows someone who does extreme tours of Chernobyl - the site of the nuclear disaster over twenty-five years before. They are taken by a Russian guide to Pripyat, the city near the reactor which was evacuated at a moment’s notice. It is, of course, eerily deserted, but they are troubled by the sounds of movement. When they return to their vehicle, it is to find the distributor is damaged and they can’t leave. When their guide goes missing the group return to the abandoned buildings to look for him. But they are not alone...

When I noticed this film was from the creator of Paranormal Activity, I couldn’t help sighing with disappointment. Paranormal Activity was, in my opinion, a lot about nothing, and not in the least scary. Chernobyl Diaries, however, is a definite step in the right direction. The beginning reminds me somewhat of Hostel III. There is an opportunity to get to know the characters, and meanwhile the tension is gradually being cranked-up. For a good two-thirds of the film you see nothing of the adversaries, aside from the occasional movement in darkness. This is clever filmmaking, particularly in horror, when the reveal often nullifies the power of the writing. So, having nothing as such to play against means the acting has to be pretty much spot on; although Laurence Olivier has nothing to worry about, these are all solid and convincing portrayals.

Unfortunately, it’s the ending which severely lets this film down. Why is it that so many writers and/or directors find it so difficult to convincingly conclude a horror tale? It’s either everyone dies, it’s all going to happen again, or something equally banal. This ending is pointless, and makes little or no sense in relation to what has gone before. Even the alternative ending inspires a hundred questions. Just for this I’ve had to remove a point. It’s a real shame that a film this promising has been spoilt by simple inattention to detail. Otherwise, this is an enjoyable romp.

Extras include the aforementioned Alternative Ending, a superfluous and short Deleted Scene, Chernobyl Conspiracy Viral Video, giving facts about the real disaster, a Trailer, and Uri’s Extreme Tours Infomercial, which is short fake commercial wherein the Russian guide advertises his tours.


Ty Power

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