Paul's friend Uri (Dimitri Diatchenko), who claims to have been leading this sort of "extreme tour" for a while, drives the foursome and another pair of tourists -- Aussie Michael (Nathan Phillips) and his Norwegian girlfriend Zoe (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) -- to Prypiat but are stopped by guards. Undeterred, they sneak in through a back way and explore the barren town, but unbeknownst to them, they're not alone. It turns out the area isn't as abandoned as they think, and the inhabitants have deadly plans for the interlopers.
The End Result
It's surprising that Paranormal Activity creator Oren Peli is credited with writing this thin drivel (although in hindsight, Chernobyl is the only script he's credited with writing since PA, so it's hard to know which one is the fluke). It's actually co-written by two of Dick Van Dyke's grandsons, Casey and Shane, whose writing résumés to date are dominated by cheapo Asylum "mockbuster" ripoffs, which should give you an indication of the level of script we're dealing with. Character development is nil (He's the reckless brother! He's the responsible brother! These girls like them for some reason!), the plot delivers neither twists nor shocks, and the villains that should be the highlight of the film are so glossed over that it wouldn't have made a difference in the story if they had been rabid otters.
First-time director Bradley Parker, a visual effects guy who puts little of his visual flair to good use on screen beyond a couple of semi-POV shots that emulate the "found footage" format, inexplicably obscures the villains for the entire movie. They're perpetually hidden in shadows, as is most of the action, making the viewing experience of watching such a shoddy script all the more frustrating.
- Acting: C (Competent, horror-standard stuff.)
- Direction: D+ (Bland; fails to reflect the edginess inherent in the concept.)
- Script: F (Toothless and predictable with half-baked mythology.)
- Gore/Effects: C (Surprisingly modest gore, often obscured by the direction.)
- Overall: D+ (Shallow, even for a horror movie, with little sense of imagination, intelligence or ambition.)
Chernobyl Diaries is directed by Bradley Parker and is rated R by the MPAA for violence, some bloody images and pervasive language. Release date: May 25, 2012.