Chernobyl Diaries

In late April 1986, I was out camping with my Scout group. Everthing seemed normal, though at the time there was talk in the media that a cloud of radiation was heading towards England from the East. True story. Because at the same time, in the old USSR a nuclear reactor had gone into meltdown at Chernobyl releasing the aforementioned radiation cloud. And at the nearby industrial town of Pripyat, which housed most of the reactors workers and families, efforts were underway to evacuate the city at incredible speed. People had little time to salvage possessions and virtually overnight the place was abandoned. It remains so to this day. However, certain areas of the town have seen radiation levels drop low enough for “extreme tourists” to return and photograph the site. Look it up on Google! Pripyat. I kid you not, it exists! I first heard about the town three years ago and have been fascinated by it since. The most famous pics are the deserted fairground and the ferris wheel that are now overgrown by nature.

There is nothing more compelling to me than fiction based on fact and so I was very excited when I first saw the trailer for Chernobyl Diaries. Story by Oren Peli (Paranormal Activity) and directorial debut by Brad Parker, the film began well leading us to this uniquely chilling, real-life town. However, it’s not long till night falls and then I guess we could have been anywhere! Dark corridors, flickery shadows and sudden noises are standard meal for any run-of-the-mill horror film. I expected more. Here we had the perfect zombie town that we all know and love, so do we really need to waste time with cliches such as building up the silence to a sudden scream? Much better to toy with our own paranoias, surely! They could have played more with the sublime nature of the town but instead ruined it by plunging most of it into darkness. Also there was too much handheld camera shots which often made it feel like there was a documentary film crew following them about. At one point they find someone’s videophone and, re-watching their “sticky demise”, it looked to me more like the person in question had accidently left their camera phone running in their pocket at a nightclub! Spooky it wasn’t! The whole thing ends up being nothing more than a Scooby-Doo chase away from the evil-doers and the fate of most of them is just as camp. As Eddie Izzard would say lackadaisically, “Oh…I’ve been captured!”

This film came out a fortnight ago but hasn’t seemed to peak as by the time I saw it this week I was alone in the cinema by myself. I was more spooked by that if I’m honest. Indeed, having the place to myself should have been a cinematique treat, but I was left unimpressed by jerky shots, poor atmospheric sound, slightly soapy acting and bad idea development. If anything it reminded me of Brit-flick Creep. Great premise, shame about the film.


Posted in 2012, Halloween | Leave a comment

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