By Mark Saldana

Rating: 1 (Out of 4 Stars)

If any of my family or friends has any desire to visit Chernobyl, I would strongly discourage them from doing this. I can understand the desire to see the aftermath of a historical tragic disaster, but in all seriousness, this would be one landmark I’d rather study from afar.  The fear I have for this place actually has nothing to do with this movie—far from it! I just think that the idea of visiting this nuclear meltdown site is pretty darn stupid, much like this attempt at a horror film which chronicles a group of tourists and their visit to this site which goes, surprise, horribly wrong.

Six young tourists decide to go on an “extreme” excursion and visit the city of Pripyat, where the infamous Chernobyl nuclear reactor had its meltdown.  Their tour guide Uri (Dimitri Diatchenko) takes them into the restricted area and all seems to go pretty smoothly, until Uri’s van breaks down leaving them trapped in the supposedly abandoned city.  Upon nightfall, a mysterious kind of animal attacks, forcing the tourists to flee their van.  One by one, Uri and the tourists disappear further delaying their escape. The remaining people begin to realize that there is more to Chernobyl than meets the eye.

Written by Oren Peli (writer and director of Paranormal Activity), Carey Van Dyke and Shane Van Dyke, and directed by Bradley Parker, Chernobyl Diaries takes an interesting idea for a horror film, but does absolutely nothing with it.  I think, if Peli and the Van Dykes had put more effort into the story and characters, they could have pulled this off.  Instead, they do little with the plot and rely on “boo, gotcha!” scares.  The filmmakers put no effort in creating smart likable characters, but instead follow the horror hand-book and rehash stupid horror clichés.  The characters make all the typical bad decisions and the direction of the story becomes all too apparent early in the film.  The characters are so poorly developed that it really is difficult to care for what happens to them. 

The cast, which features Ingrid Bolso Verdahl (Zoe), Dimitri Diatchenko (Uri), Olivia Dudley (Natalie), Devin Kelley (Amanda), Jesse McCartney (Chris), Nathan Phillips (Michael) and Jonathan Sadowski (Paul), has their moments, but not very many of them.  There are way too many silly and laughable scenes with the group.  I don’t completely blame the actors, but the director and screenwriters who gave them such crappy material to perform. 

Sadly, I can honestly see real people taking a trip into Chernobyl and doing all of the idiotic and stupid things these characters do.  I don’t necessarily want to watch this on the big screen, though.  If I wanted to watch feeble minded people use poor judgment, I can watch some ridiculous reality show on television.  If any friends or family express any desire to watch this movie, I would definitely discourage them from doing so.

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