Here’s the pitch: Six not particularly likable 20-somethings decide it’d be a swell idea to pay a sketcky Russian “tour guide” to take them on an illegal tour of Chernobyl. Guess what? It wasn’t such a swell idea after all. What a shock. Similarly, I’ll note that sitting through Chernobyl Diaries isn’t a swell idea either. It’s not the worst horror movie ever made, but it’ll do. The story is from the mind of Oren Peli, the fellow who gave us the Paranormal Activity gimmick. This movie strays from that, but it’s still done in such a way that it looks and feels amateurish and cheap. As near as I can tell, amateurish and cheap is supposed to pass for realism, which in turn is supposed to be scary. Banana oil. It merely draws attention to itself, making the viewer even more conscious that this is a movie. I know, I know. It makes the footage look “real,” but is anybody — other than the incredibly credulous — buying this junk as “real?” In the end, what you’ve got is an ugly, frequently out of focus, poorly lit movie with a bunch of people it’s hard to care about running around in the dark. And from what? Barely glimpsed Russian radiation mutant cannibals, meaning it’s like The Hills Have Eyes with an accent. But it’s much, much worse.
Director: Brad Parker
Writer: Oren Peli, Carey Van Dyke and Shane Van Dyke
Producer: Oren Peli and Brian Witten
Cast: Jesse McCartney, Jonathan Sadowski, Olivia Dudley, Nathan Phillips, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, Devin Kelley, Dimitri Diatchenko and Alex Feldman