Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Chernobly Diaries (2012)

As usual I always seem to be late to the party when it comes to new horror films. My main reason is the simple fact that I have been disappointed by so many films and remakes that I just can’t find the “umph” to check them out when new films come out. It usually takes me awhile to get to them and sometimes I find a nice little gem like Chernobyl Diaries.

Four Americans Chris (Jesse McCartney), his brother Paul (Jonathan Sadowski), Chris’ girlfriend Natalie (Olivia Taylor Dudley) and their friend Amanda (Devin Kelley) are traveling through Europe. While outside of Moscow, Russia; Paul finds a tour guide of the extreme kind. This guide promises to take them to the infamous site of one of the worst nuclear disasters in history; Chernobyl.  At the travel agency the four meet with Yuri (Dimitri Diatcheckno) the tour guide and another couple Michael (Nathan Philips) and Zoe (Ingrid Berdal). 

Insert Laverne & Shirley theme song here
The group piles into Yuri’s van and off they go to check out the deserted town of Pripyat which was abandoned after the Chernobly disaster. They enter into the city through an old check point that isn’t used anymore. Here they discover a mutated fish on the river bank just outside the town. Yuri takes them into the town and guides them through one of the deserted buildings. In this area the radiation levels are very low so they are safe for a short visit. Yuri discovers that someone has been inside the building recently and in a very tense moment they also discover a large brown bear that had been rummaging through the building. That is their cue to leave the area but when they make it to the van they discover that the wiring in the starter has been ripped out. 
The majestic view

The group begins to panic but Yuri keeps them calm and radios for help but to no avail. They decide to spend the night in the van and leave on foot the next morning.  This is where things start to really ramp up. Yuri leaves the van to investigate what sounds like a baby crying in the distance. Chris goes with him to help even though Yuri is armed with a pistol. Shots are fired and Paul leaves the van to get Yuri and his brother. He only returns with Chris, whose leg is severely injured. Chris tells him they were attacked but by what he wasn’t sure. Chris believes he was mauled by dogs.
"Hey let's all sing Kum-by-ya!"

The next day Paul, Amanda, Zoe and Michael decide to look for Yuri and leave Chris and Natalie in the van. The four are chased by wild dogs but discover Yuri’s body in one of the abandoned complexes. They also discover they are certainly not alone and that someone or thing is there as well.  They also discover a yard of cars and trucks that have been abandoned. Michael finds spare parts that he can fix the van with and they return to the van. Upon returning they find that the van has been attacked and rolled over. On Chris’s camera they discover that the two were attacked by a group of humanoid creatures.

Here kitty kitty kit.....oooohh shiiiiiii.....
 They search through the town looking for them and are chased by more mutant creatures. Natalie and Michael get captured and the remaining three have to navigate out of the dark complex. Zoe is captured as well after they find Natalie and shortly thereafter Natalie is again captured by the mutants. Paul and Amanda finally navigate through a fallout shelter and find themselves in the reactor. As the radiation levels rise their skin begins to blister. They find their way out but by now Paul is blind from the radiation. They are discovered by Ukrainian soldiers who shoot Paul because he wouldn’t obey their commands to stand down. Amanda passes out but awakens in a hospital. Several doctors in protective suits reveal to Amanda that the people she encountered were escaped patients. They take her to dark room and leave her. As she hears movement she cries out when she realizes she is being held in a room full of mutants!
Creepiest moment in the film!

Wow! Such a bleak ending…..I loved it! Director Bradley Parker and screenplay writer Oren Peli (Paranormal Activity) bring to the table such a well paced movie that really grabs your attention and refuses to let go. With every moment the characters are trapped in the city, their situation gets stranger and worsens. The locations were perfect and filmed in Serbia and the Ukraine. The abandoned buildings used really captured the gloom and doom. I don’t know if the director used filters on the camera but everything seems to be bathed in a lot of blues and greys. There is no sun at all in this movie which adds even more to the atmosphere. The acting is surprisingly good too. I wasn’t expecting much out of McCartney with his pop songwriting and good boy image but he proved to be up to the task and excelled! 

There isn’t a lot of gore in this and I wasn’t sure if there was going to be. There are a few quick nasty shots but no camera lingering which just adds to the atmosphere. There is so much that you cant really see clearly so that feeling of uneasiness creeps in very well. Much like in the Paranormal Activity movies where “less is more” the Chernobyl Diaries ups the ante so to speak. There is lots of tension especially in the junkyard scene where the group encounters some telling evidence of what happened on an abandoned bus and when they are discovered by a pack of wild dogs. The pace never slows down and the entire movie kept me wanting more.  I don’t see a lot of new horror films when they debut and this is one that I would have liked to have seen in the theater. Chernobyl Diaries comes highly recommend from the video coffin!

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