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Chernobyl Diaries (2012)

Experience the fallout

Rating: 5/10

Running Time: 88 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 15


Chernobyl is the catchword for the dangers of nuclear power plants but could it actually become more associated with a well-made, truly shocking horror film by Oren Peli and Bradley Parker? No, no it won’t as I’ve practically forgotten it already and a poor critical reaction made it a-bomb. Honestly, stop it John, you’ll make them wet themselves.

An extreme tourism visit to the deserted city of Pripyat at the site of the Chernobyl disaster has become the only reason trendy young gadabouts visit Ukraine whilst on a European interrailing trip and it, being both young and trendy myself, was something that tickled my fancy at one point. It was only time before some wily film Director (rightly or wrongly) made this situation into a horror film starring young, pretty American fodder getting lost and attacked by some kind of terror from the radioactive dark. Chernobyl Diaries has Americans Chris (McCartney) and his girlfriend Natalie (Dudley), Chris’s messed up brother Paul (Sadowski) and two tag-a-longs (Berdal and Phillips) who put their trust in ex-military tour guide Uri (Diatchenko). Things obviously go wrong and nasties appear from the dark and a fight for survival ensues.

Chernobyl Diaries is simultaneously well set up and appalling. The morbid scenes as the group explore the ruins of Pripyat (actually filmed in Bulgaria and Serbia as, unsurprisingly, permission wasn’t given to film at Chernobyl itself) whilst distastefully laughing and joking around is nicely captured in an unmelodramatic, eerie fashion but also serves to make the audience want them to die. The characterisation is the big letdown here as the paper-thin characters – especially the two that just appear half way through and have no links to anyone else – are unlikable horror templates who split up way too soon and die randomly with little fanfare. The horror aspect delivers some scares as they venture down to the fallout tunnels but this turns it into a generic horror location plus we never really get to see what is chasing them and even the tiniest of explanations are not offered up.

Overall, it hasn’t lived up to the promising premise and has probably stopped anyone else from taking on this situation and doing it better.

It's Got: An interesting setting, a few decent scares

It Needs: Much better characterisation, more thought to have gone into the scares and who was providing them

DVD Extras Some pretty poor extras including one deleted scene, a pointless alternative ending, a fake infomercial for Uri's Extreme Tours and a Chernobyl Conspiracy viral that asks questions but answers nothing. DVD Extras Rating: 4/10


A good concept that’s failed by its delivery. Unfortunately, now that Parker and Peli have had a half arsed stab at Chernobyl, this interesting horror location has had it’s V-plates disappointingly taken in the back of a Fiat Uno and will never get them back.