When Chernobyl Diaries was released on May 25, 2012, I couldn’t wait to see it. Alas, I never did see it in the theater and I’m glad I didn’t spend $12 to see it. The concept of this film is fairly interesting but the execution of this concept was not great.
Jesse McCartney as Chris
Jonathan Sadowski as Paul
Devin Kelley as Amanda
Olivia Taylor Dudley as Natalie
Nathan Phillips as Michael
Ingrid Bolsø Berdal as Zoe
Dimitri Diatchenko as Uri
Running Time 86 minutes
Chris, his girlfriend Natalie, and Amanda go to Europe to visit Chris’ brother Paul who lives in Kiev, Ukraine. They planned to go to Moscow the next day and Chris planned to propose to Natalie in Moscow. Instead, Chris suggests they take an adventure in extreme tourism, by taking a guided tour of Pripyat, Ukraine, the abandoned city north east of Chernobyl Nuclear power plant disaster site from 1986. He manages to talk them into the tour and they go to meet Uri, the tour guide the next day to take the tour. They are jointed by another couple, Zoe and Michael.
Uri takes them to the Chernobyl Exclusion Zone check point and are turned away, the guards stating that the check point is closed for maintenance. Uri, however knows another way into Pripyat and he takes the old VW van to the old abandoned check point in the woods. They make it to the city, tour the city streets and take pictures. They go into buildings and at one point a brown/ black bear rushes them inside one of the buildings.
Eventually it is time to leave Pripyat and they go back to their van it will not start. They check out the engine and they discover, much to their chagrin, that the wires have been CHEWED. Yes, folks, chewed. Was it animals? Who knows? They attempt to call the same military that refused them entry into the exclusion zone for help. They receive no response. They have no choice but to spend the night.
They hear some noises and Uri and Chris go out to investigate these noises. A few gunshots are heard and Paul goes out to find them and brings back Chris whose leg has been mauled pretty badly. (by dogs?) He is unable to find Uri. The next day, Paul, Michael, and Amanda go looking for Uri. Chris and Natalie stay behind. They follow a trail of blood to find Uri’s mutilated body in an underground reactor complex. They find a parking lot of cars and look for replacement wires for the van. They find them but are chased by dogs. When they get back to the van they find it torn to shreds and overturned. Natalie’s video camera reveals that she and Chris were taken by the mutants. While searching for the two, the group is chased by more mutants.
During their escape, Natalie is rescued and then captured again by the mutants. The rest of the group is then swarmed by a group of mutants. While retreating to a fallout shelter, Michael is captured. As they continue, they come upon Chris’ engagement ring for Natalie, with no sign of Chris. They start to climb a ladder and a gang of mutants pull Zoe back down, forcing Amanda and Paul to leave her behind.
Paul and Amanda continue through the fallout shelter, emerging right to the reactor. As they navigate the reactor, their eyes and skin begins to burn. How is it possible that they are inside the reactor? Chernobyl is 7.5 miles from Pripyat. Just doesn’t seem feasible, to me. They find Natalie’s body and manage to make their way out of the reactor but run into the military. Paul is now blind from the radiation poisoning and attempts to approach the military personnel and is shot dead.
Amanda is taken to a hospital by the military personnel. A few doctors inform her she is in the hospital and that the mutants are actually escaped patients that have been recovered. The doctors decide that Amanda knows too much and throw her into a cell where she is attacked by mutants (a la Wrong Turn and The Hills Have Eyes) as the doctor throws the shutter on the door. Chilling ending to the movie, no?
This movie was filmed in Hungary and Serbia (That’s just creepy in itself. Eastern bloc countries freak me out anyway. ) I did read that it was filmed in old Nazi bunkers in Serbia. It wasn’t the greatest movie and I thought more could have been done on this premise. This film tries to capitalize on the popular “found footage” film of today but does not deliver. It seems this theme was abandoned during the filming.
Many people hate this movie. See the link Friends of Chernobyl below.
This film has prompted me to learn a little more about the history of the Chernobyl Disaster since I was only 15 years old when it happened and did not fully understand what had happened.
Inside Chernobyl (37 minute documentary film.)