Chernobyl has always been ripe for the proverbial horror-flick picking, and with Paranormal Activity creator and director Oren Peli producing and penning this survival horror vehicle, hopes are high.
A group of young tourists go “extreme” when they decide to take a trip to the still radioactive city of Pripyat, the abandoned home to thousands of workers at the doomed nuclear power station.
Pripyat is undoubtedly bleak and unnerving, and as a setting it should provide horror pay dirt, sadly it doesn’t.
The setting and the premise are simply not delivered on; as firstly the group are left stranded by the age old plot device of…the car won’t start! In turn setting horror back thirty years when all possible escapes depended on the turn of a key; and it’s excruciating to watch as tour guide Yuri reveals that the dizzy cap has been sabotaged, but by what?
We soon find out – sort of, as the highly predictable, presumably radioactively mutated beings are never actually really seen or properly revealed, as our group hysterically and repeatedly scurry along darkened corridors seemingly chased by nothing at times. It’s great to get jittery about something being around a darkened corner, but when, again and again there’s nothing, it gets boring very quick.
And when the end doesn’t present either a mystery or a compelling reason for 86 minutes of tedium, there is no reward for sticking it out even with a relatively short runtime.
Though not completely without some decent moments, Yuri’s early practical joking with a bulbous radioactive fish provides some laughs and the arrival at the ghost town feels genuinely eerie; Chernobyl Diaries is an unoriginal, chaotic mess of regurgitated horror clichés, terrible acting, predictable characterisation and it’s criminally unfrightening.
We have a contender for the radioactive, three eyed Turkey of the year!