Chernobyl Diaries (2012) by The Critical Movie Critics

Movie Review: Chernobyl Diaries (2012)

Movie review of Chernobyl Diaries (2012) by The Critical Movie Critics

Situation getting worse.

It was considerate that director Bradley Parker (a visual technician in films such as “Lake Placid” and “Fight Club“) followed a similar path as “Cabin in the Woods” director Drew Goddard did in turning the old teenage slasher/horror/mutant genre on its head with Chernobyl Diaries.

However, while Goddard and company opted for an intricate, multi-layered story that focused on real scares, scientific research and supernatural, otherworldly occurrences; Parker, in his debut, just went for the laughs.

Unfortunately, the humor was quite unintentional.

With a plot that borrows (actually, that’s too soft a word, steals is more like it) heavily from “Cloverfield,” “I Am Legend,” “28 Days Later” and “The Grey,” among others, screenwriters Shane and Carey Van Dyke (“Titanic II,” “The Day the Earth Stopped“) have crafted a motion picture that features none of the intrinsic interest or competence of any of these films.

That’s not the half of it, as the acting — by such individuals as Jonathan Sadowski (“The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard“), Jesse McCarthy (who looks more like Leonardo DiCaprio than Leonardo DiCaprio, “Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked“), Nathan Phillips (“Snakes On a Plane“), Devin Kelley (“Covert Affairs” TV series), Olivia Dudley (“Chillerama“) and Norwegian actress (term used quite loosely) Ingrid Bolsø Berdal — gives community theater a bad name. A very bad name.

Might as well get to the plot, I suppose. For some reason, Chris (McCarthy) wants to take his fiancée, Natalie (Dudley), to Moscow to propose. In this endeavor, he drags along Amanda (Kelley), but stops off in Keiv to visit his brother, Paul (Sandowski). But instead of proceeding from there to Moscow, though, Paul inserts a plot convenience device which persuades the group to stop by a town vacated 25 years before by the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. On this trip, they are joined by two other goof-balls, Michael (Phillips) and Zoe (Berdal).

It’s a very dumb idea, but, hey, Chernobyl Diaries already had a title, so everyone had to go with it. Driven to the location by gruff former Soviet military man and travel agent, Uri (Dimitri Diatchenko, “Get Smart” and easily the most competent member of this cast), things begin to go south quickly when the moronic clan is attacked by radiated bears, dogs, fish and unseen vehicular vandals.

Movie review of Chernobyl Diaries (2012) by The Critical Movie Critics

Should have stayed in the bus.

Of course, they sink even deeper into despair and disaster when wild, feral beasts become the least of their problems (and that doesn’t even include a script that turns into Cliché Central or situations that caused the preview audience to howl with laughter).

Yes, not just tentative giggles here and there, but outright guffaws; which, I can assure you, is not a good sign for a so-called horror movie.

And while I joined my peers on many occasions, I did have higher hopes when Chernobyl Diaries began. I appreciated the early look when Uri drives the group through the creepy, empty streets of the city which was vacated with little or no warning to the inhabitants. The scenes of the abandoned buildings, apartments and amusement parks were especially effective, as was the first dog attack sequence.

After that, however, you’ll do better to slip into another theater, maybe one showing “Battleship” or “The Five-Year Engagement” or “What to Expect When You’re Expecting.” None of these movies are any better, but they’re certainly more entertaining in their respective ways.

Critical Movie Critic Rating:
1 Star Rating: Stay Away


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The Critical Movie Critics

I have been a movie fan for most of my life and a film critic since 1986 (my first published review was for "Platoon"). Since that time I have written for several news and entertainment publications in California, Utah and Idaho. Big fan of the Academy Awards - but wish it would go back to the five-minute dinner it was in May, 1929. A former member of the San Diego Film Critics Society and current co-host of "The Movie Guys," each Sunday afternoon on KOGO AM 600 in San Diego with Kevin Finnerty.

'Movie Review: Chernobyl Diaries (2012)' have 3 comments

  1. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 25, 2012 @ 1:36 pm Cyberquill

    Don’t you know anything? The best places in the world to propose are deserted and radioactive.

  2. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 25, 2012 @ 5:20 pm Phil Arcite

    predictable to the credits.

  3. The Critical Movie Critics

    May 25, 2012 @ 6:22 pm Ervich

    Radioactive mutants …. again. I’m so scared.

  4. The Critical Movie Critics

    October 19, 2012 @ 9:41 pm Blaine

    Clunky ending but there’s a lot of good jump scares scattered throughout to hold your attention.

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