It’s the one of the most frustrating things as I viewer when you watch a film that has so much potential, but makes so many fundamental mistakes it instantly drops into the ‘ready for bargain bin’ pile upon release.
We were told in the build up that it was from the producers of Paranormal Activity, with the trailer indicating some sort of camcorder element, this is severely lacking in the final product.
In a nutshell four friends along with an aussie couple and their tour guide Yuri set out to the small abandoned town on Privia in Chernobyl, scene of a nuclear disaster over 25 years ago.
Yuri is adamant that the town in abandoned, with no real signs of life, yet the Ukrainian military won’t let the tourist trip into the grounds. Luckily or unluckily Yuri knows a short cut through the woods, and the group make their way into the village.
The ‘Extreme Tourism’ group set about looking around and discover very little bar a giant bear in an apartment structure (seriously). The pace is plodding at best, and we don’t really see anything untoward in the first third of the film at all, with a severe lack of suspense.
Low and behold Yuri’s van has been attacked whilst the group were inside and now things finally start to get a bit strange.
This is where ‘Diaries’ should have really have ramped up the scares and really gone to town, being on the site of a nuclear radiation leak they could have been so creative with their villains, alas this seems like a mix of the Hills Have Eyes with Sloth from The Goonies.
Films like The Descent were very good at drawing out their scares despite the majority of the film being in the dark, whereas with Chernobyl Diaries the timing always seems to be off and most of the scares are telegraphed and predictable.
There is also the mystery of why diaries is part of the title, as there is no sort of journal element to it, which may have worked better over a longer period of time with the group descending into madness before being picked off.
Given the setting and found footage element, this could have been so much better than the lazy, bland treatment it has. The characters aren’t really sympathetic in the slightest, well except Yuri who seemed like a nice enough man, so when many of them meet there demise it’s a case of onto the next one.
Conclusively Chernobyl Diaries is one entry any horror fan can do without, no matter the cost in Tesco.