Oh Oren Peli. The man behind one of the dumbest franchises in existence, Paranormal Activity. He didn’t direct Chernobyl Diaries, but he did have a hand in the screenplay. That’s how you know this movie had no chance whatsoever. For those of you that have the blissful privilege of not sitting through any of the Paranormal Activity films, let me sum up Oren Peli’s writing style: nothing happens for the first 45 minutes, a lot of cheap jump scares, nothing is explained, annoying characters, and in the end the ghost/demon/villain always wins. To his credit, he tried something different for Chernobyl Diaries. Well, actually he didn’t try at all.
We start with 3 people backpacking through Europe. We also see Jesse McCartney in his first live action movie role. Who is he? Some dude who sings mediocre songs, and is one of the new computer generated chipmunks. I never said he was famous for anything credible. They’re on their way to Kiev to meet up with his brother Paul. After a good 20 minutes of pointless chatting and an almost confrontation with some locals, Paul comes up with the “genius” idea of Extreme Tourism. The location? Pripyat, the home of the workers of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. I know that if everyone had said no, there would be no movie. However…Pripyat has very unstable fluctuations in radiation. Call me stupid, but that right there makes me want to just take my ass to a beach and get hammered. That is my definition of tourism.
The morons meet up with the world’s worst tour guide, and two other meat bags. They set off for Pripyat. As soon as they get to the gate, there’s security forcing them to turn around because of “maintenance” issues. They decide to just take a back way to get into the city. A mutated fish and yet another 20 minutes later, we get to the whole point of this damn thing. They go back to the van after almost getting attacked by a brown bear (seriously) where they discover the wires in the ignition have been chewed on. Did I mention their tour guide works alone, and no one knows they’re there? You probably figured that out. So Mr. chipmunk and the tour guide decide to try to walk back to the entrance of the city to get help. At night. Armed with one gun and a flashlight.
Not even a minute passes before the tour guide is dragged off, and Theodore gets his leg mangled. From here on out, it’s just a shaky cam mess. Everyone just dies rapid fire except for Theodore’s brother and his now love interest. They somehow end up in the reactor, and get bombarded with radiation. They make it outside, only for the brother to be shot and the girl gets carted off to some medical facility. She gets placed in a dimly lit cell. The last scene is her being…eaten? Raped? Heavily tickled? It cuts away so damn quick that you’re not sure if she lives, or if she’s going to be turned into a zombie mutant. Yes, that is what lies in the ruins of Pripyat: zombie mutants.
I’m still trying to figure out how this script got picked up. It’s freaking stupid. Nothing happens, there’s zero character development, and you don’t even get a good look at what’s attacking everyone. And it’s not even a damn diary! This was made to look like a movie, not a vacation video from hell. If something is called Chernobyl Diaries, I fully expect it to look like there’s someone holding a handheld camera and I better see dates and crap. And it’s rated R. For what? A broken leg and some f bombs? All of the deaths happen off-screen. You have a damn R rating… Why don’t you freaking push it to its limit?! It really doesn’t take a whole lot to get an R rating anymore, does it? -5/5. As you can see, I don’t have warm fuzzy feelings for Oren Peli. If you want to see the ultimate vacation from hell, check out Cabin in the Woods or The Descent. I would recommend something that’s in actual diary format, but those are always bad, too.