There’s really only one genre that can inspire mass hatred when it’s done badly – horror. This genre is perhaps the hardest to get right on the money but when it fails, it fails hard. Chernobyl Diaries fails hard…very hard.
A group of tourists find themselves stranded in the abandoned city of Pripyat and must fend off the mutilated radioactive creatures that are hunting them while they attempting an escape.
There are two kinds of horror films: firstly, the ones in which the monster gets a full reveal early in movie (basically all slasher genre movies); and the other, where the evil remains a mystery, only to be revealed when the film delivers the punchline but still leaving hints along the way.
Chernobyl diaries is somewhere between the two – the monsters appear as silhouettes but it’s really obvious what they are, and when they deliver the punchline, there just isn’t any mystery to it. It’s an unsatisfying waste of time and deserves no more than 30 minutes to get the idea where the film is headed.
The budget of this film is also pretty obvious and it can be seen in the inexperienced writing. The story itself has a concept but the narative just doesn’t flow anywhere. The characters are dull and uninteresting and the last thing that one should want is for the heroes to die – however I couldn’t wait for their demise. And as mentioned, the antagonists lack any creativity whasoever. Chernobyl Diaries is just more of an exhaustion to watch and it’s only credit is that it wasn’t done in the the found footage style – that’s a credit for not doing something.
The Bottom Line
Chernobyl Diaries is a sedated, slow paced, unscary mess of a film that is characterless, stylistically inane and lacking in any tension whatsoever. There was plenty of potential to turn this into a great, heart pounding exploitative film but just like reading through someone elses diary, you just never get that visual context or excitement.