DIR: Bradley Parker • WRI: Oren Peli, Carey Van Dyke, Shane Van Dyke • PRO: Oren Peli, Brian Witten • DOP: Terri Taylor • DES: Aleksandar Denic Matthew Sullivan • Cast: Jesse McCartney, Jonathan Sadowski, Olivia Dudley, Nathan Phillips
This movie did not originally come from great stock. Written by a guy who’s previous credits include Titanic 2 and Transmorphers 2 (no, I didn’t spell that wrong), and directed by a guy who’s biggest CV entry to date was working on the special effects in xXx. Add to that a pretty much completely unknown cast, and what you should have is a direct-to-DVD waste of time. Luckily, current horror maestro Oren Peli (the Paranormal Activity series, Insidious) tinkered with the script, and instead what we have is a fitfully entertaining, sometimes-quite-scary horror flick.
A group of attractive 20-somethings are holidaying their way across Europe and are heading towards Moscow when they meet an ‘Extreme Tourism’ travel agent who talks them into taking a day trip to Chernobyl. After taking a nice stroll around the abandoned radioactive town, the group return to their van and discover something (or someone?) has torn out the engine. And as night begins to fall, they discover that the town is not as abandoned as they’d been led to believe…
A mix of I Am Legend and The Hills Have Eyes, if you can ignore the generally bad acting by the generally annoying cast, Chernobyl Diaries wins out thanks to its fundamentally creepy setting and panicky camerawork which turns the viewer into a member of the group without becoming a member of the tired ‘found-footage’ genre. While it won’t win any awards for originality, it does have enough scares to make it an fun way to spend 85 minutes.
Rated 16 (see IFCO website for details)
Chernobyl Diaries is released on 22nd June 2012