MOVIE REVIEW: Chernobyl Diaries (2012)
The 1980s were a busy decade for major disaster events across the globe, and 1986 was no exception. The two big stories were the Challenger Explosion above Cape Canaveral, FL, USA (an event I witnessed on television in school) and the Chernobyl nuclear disaster near Pripyat, Ukraine, USSR. The Challenger explosion was more important to me at the time because I wanted to be an astronaut and it happened in America; what I learned about Russia came from movies like Rocky IV, Red Scorpion, and Red Heat. While still important, I have seen what took place in Chernobyl and Pripyat and my heart goes out to the victims and their descendants. More often, I hear of entertainment inspired by the disaster, and its aftermath — things like the extreme tourism and urban exploration of abandoned Pripyat, the FPS video game S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl and the horror movie Chernobyl Diaries. These things never seem to display an understanding that a disaster happened there over 30 years ago and that one should be respectful of the victims. Sadly, this very fact did not sell movie tickets or game units as much as “wander into a guarded radioactive exclusion zone and get scared/killed by radioactive mutant inhabitants”. If it didn’t then I wouldn’t have a movie to write about.
Chernobyl Diaries could have gone a completely different way, but for a vote and peer pressure. Hence several stupid Americans — Chris (Jesse McCartney, no relation to the Beatle Paul) and his very blonde girlfriend Natalie (Olivia Taylor Dudley), Chris’ brother Paul (Jonathan Sadowski) and Natalie’s friend Amanda (Devin Kelley) — a Norwegian (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Hercules , Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters) and her Australian fiancée (Nathan Phillips) meet up in Kiev to go on an extreme tourism run to Pripyat to tour the abandoned radioactive city with their highly suspicious Russian tour guide (Dimitri Diatchenko). The usual happens when they reach spoooOOOOky Pripyat: the vehicle is crippled somehow, cellphones don’t work, nobody answers the Walkie-Talkie, and everyone jumps at shadows. There was a point where I waited a full minute waiting for a jump scare after I called it. Throw in mysterious humanoid things that attack from the dark that seem to have a taste for raw flesh and you have a recipe for disaster. Especially when you realize that had Chris just stuck to his guns, he’d be still be alive to tell everyone abut his not-so-awesome European trip.
Chris was present when the vote was cast and he didn’t have to go. But everyone else was going, and he had just been outvoted…by Natalie, the woman he wanted to marry. This should have been the linchpin to let him know he shouldn’t marry this girl if she wasn’t going to use her head on a trip to a foreign country where blonde White women go missing and nobody cares but the men who buy them. Instead, he’s like “Oh OK honey, we can go into the poisonous radioactive zone; I can propose marriage to you later” and never gets the chance.
There were several things that made me wonder about this movie, especially the throwaway line about Chris accepting a one-way plane ticket to Kiev from his brother. A quick aside:
WHO DOES THAT? WHO ACCEPTS A ONE-WAY PLANE TICKET ANYWHERE FROM ANYONE TO GO ANYWHERE, WITH NO WAY TO GET BACK ALREADY SET UP?
When Amanda takes pics and sees images of faces spying from shadowy windows and doesn’t tell anyone, despite constant speculation and queries about whether people still live in the abandoned city? That’s like setting up your entire crew to get killed. Also, those guards don’t stand there for nothing all day: they were obviously are there to hold a line to keep people out or things in. These tourists were more concerned about the money they spent to go on a trip to a dangerous and forbidden area than staying under the notice of the law.
Blonde-ass Natalie even made the comment, “We might end up in a Ukrainian jail or something”. Bitch, you’re lucky your dumb ass didn’t get kidnapped by the drunk guys at the beginning of the movie and sold into sex slavery. That would have been a lot more interesting to watch if her friends broke through hell to rescue her instead of finding her barely molested corpse behind some machinery in Chernobyl.
Which now brings me to a BIG issue I had with this movie: instead of facing down wild dogs (whom they could have intimidated with their tool-using hands and their opposing thumbs), they chose to go further into the radioactive zone, even into the site of the disaster itself — the ruined Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Here, nature reclaimed only so much, and a miscarriage of technology changed those left behind. When the surviving members head deeper into the site, they had a Geiger counter with them, ticking off all the way and getting more intense as they approached certain areas. At times their skin would blister, they would feel sick, and one guy even went blind. It was made clear to them at the start that they would have to leave after a period of time to avoid radiation poisoning just being in Pripyat…and yet they went deeper in to…I don’t know, get more poisoning. There was no one to save, no reason to go deeper. It’s like watching a murder victim in a slasher flick run upstairs to escape the killer.
While the movie was bad, the ending was both good and fitting: no one survived, everyone got what they deserved, and no one bred their genes to make more stupid people. There are two down sides to this movie. For starters, this may be the only information people may learn about Chernobyl or the issues with nuclear energy. Second, this film was more money in the hands of Oren Peli, the man responsible for the Paranormal Activity series — now on its sixth movie (The Ghost Dimension).
PLEASE STOP HIM BEFORE HE KILLS BRAIN CELLS AGAIN — DO NOT SEE THIS MOVIE, NOT EVEN ON BOOTLEG.
Originally published at http://gedren56.blogspot.com.