To say that I was “excited” to see this movie might be an overstatement, but to say I was “kind of sort of interested” in seeing this movie would be a little more accurate. Although, now that I look back on the list of movies I made back in the spring of things I planned on seeing in the coming months, it looks like Chernobyl Diaries is the last movie for me to watch! Achievement unlocked! That’s an XBOX joke, in case you didn’t get it. It seems like in the past few years, every single horror movie cites a connection to Paranormal Activity and this movie is certainly no exception. The more often this gets used, the less often you can trust it, because most of these movies are garbage. I even had opportunities to see this movie for free and completely blew them off, mostly because of how much negative feedback it was getting. Lucky for you, I had run out of things to watch, and now you get to know what I thought about it!
“We’re just some attractive Americans in Eastern Europe, what could possibly go wrong?!”
While traveling in Europe, a group of vacationing American backpackers decide that they want to have a more memorable experience. They get in touch with someone who is willing to take them to the town of Pripyat, which is a now abandoned city that felt the effects of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. After being denied entry to the town by the military, the tour guide takes a different way in, and when questioned about the safety of the whole trip, he reassures them that it’s okay to be there for a few hours. After exploring the ruins for a bit, the gang returns to their van and finds some of the wires are cut. Although the tour guide warned the tourists about animals in the area, this clearly wasn’t done by an animal. Through some attempts at finding help, some of the group are killed, some merely injured, but it’s quite sure that they aren’t the only ones in Pripyat. Ya see, nuclear incidents turn regular humans into mutated freak monsters! The remaining two vacationers wander into the heart of the reactor and start breaking out in boils and blisters when the military shows up, kills one, and takes the other to the hospital. Instead of helping her, she’s locked up in a room full mutated freaks who kill her, and nobody drops a tear for these dead Americans.
If the van’s windows are foggy, someone’s panties are getting soggy! That’s a saying, right?
I’m glad that I had heard lots of negative reviews about this movie because that set my standards incredibly low. Don’t worry, I’m not here to try to convince you that this movie was good or anything like that, but there were a couple positive things that this movie did have going for it, so it’ll probably quicker to assume everything was shitty except for these few points. Firstly, even though this movie wasn’t done in the found footage style when it easily could have been, it was shot almost exclusively with handheld cameras, so you got the feel of being right there with the tourists without people looking directly into the camera. Secondly, I thought that the filmmakers were able to convey the message of how fucked up people are these days that they will go on tours to places where hundreds and hundreds of people were injured, killed, and had permanent, horrible effects on their families. When the tour guide is driving the van through backroads to get into Pripyat, the American tourists are so busy laughing at the bumpy ride that they forget how many lives were ruined in the disaster. Very similar to some of the things that were trying to be said in Hostel about Americans visiting Europe, but just a little bit more subtle. Lastly, this movie had possibly my favorite jump scare of the year. Not because of how effective it was, but because of how absurd it was. While investigating an abandoned apartment building (in fact, the same one recreated in Call of Duty: Modern Warfare), the gang hears some strange noises. When they all shush up long enough to see whatever ghost or mutant creature is about to attack, instead, it’s a GODDAMNED BEAR. THAT’S RIGHT, A FUCKING BEAR IS RUNNING WILD IN AN APARTMENT BUILDING. How do they avoid the bear? They press their backs to the wall and the BEAR JUST FUCKING RUNS PAST THEM, NOT GIVING A SHIT ABOUT ANYTHING BECAUSE THAT’S WHAT BEARS DO. They had established the idea of dogs and wolves running wild in Pripyat, so it’s not that crazy that other animals would take up residency, but to only kind of be paying attention to the movie and randomly have a bear come barreling through the apartment was awesome. So, so awesome. Bears are really cool. This movie? Not cool, but there’s plenty worse for you to waste your time with.
Wolfman Moon Scale