REVIEW: Horror Channel’s Chernobyl Diaries demonstrates how far a great premise can take a film
Travelling around Europe is a right of passage for any 20-something-year-old but when a group of tourists decide to abandon their planned route and spontaneously partake in some extreme tourism, let’s face it, they probably were asking for trouble.
With hopes of adventure off the beaten track, the travelers hire an ex-military tour guide who takes them to the Ukrainian town of Prypiat, which was abandoned after the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear reactor disaster. Although the sightseers are initially thrilled by the eerie and desolate ghost-town, all excitement disappears when the group soon becomes stranded.
But what will they do when they discover they are not alone?…
The brilliant Chernobyl Diaries (2012) makes its UK premiere this weekend on Saturday, July 1 at 9pm on the Horror Channel. From Oren Peli – who first wowed audiences with his terrifying and original thriller, Paranormal Activity – this American disaster film stars Jesse McCartney, Jonathan Sadowski, Devin Kelley, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Nathan Phillips, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, and Dimitri Diatchenko.
Chernobyl Diaries is an excellent reminder of how far a genuinely cool concept can carry a film, as Peli succeeds once again in captivating (and scaring the living daylights out of) his viewers with minimal production values and a genius premise.
The creator’s signature documentary-style camera shots, featuring hand-held shaky-cam visuals, creates that creepy sense of realism as the tourists embark upon their journey. And the sinister build up is balanced out wonderfully by the acting of Berdal, Sadowski and Kelley, who capture the youthful silliness of the three lead explorers really well.
I would advise any thrill-seekers watching to wait the film out until its second half, as the subtle build-up of the first thirty minutes makes the hellish descent thereafter all the more satisfactory. It is when the group’s van refuses to start up that events really begin to spiral out of control.
Overall, Chernobyl Diaries is a movie driven by an interesting concept and is sure to get you screaming in terror this Saturday night. Oh, and did I mention there’s a random(/petrifying) appearance by a bear? Keep an eye out for that one.
Chernobyl Diaries (2012) premieres Saturday, July 1 at 9pm on Horror Channel.