Don’t you just hate it when you go on a great adventure holiday with your buddies and you end up running around in the dark fighting for your life?
Well that’s exactly what happens when a bunch of dumb Americans decide to take a trip to one of the ghost towns left behind by its inhabitants the night of the Chernobyl meltdown. And this extreme tourist trip takes a very wrong turn indeed.
After a really clichéd first 20 minutes consisting of a montage of European cities the group have visited, we are introduced to the four American leads Paul (Jonathan Sadowski) who is brash, arrogant and extremely annoying, his younger sensible brother Chris (Jesse McCartney) who plans to propose to his blonde girlfriend Natalie (Olivia Dudley) who is accompanied by her brunette friend Amanda (Devin Kelley). Paul persuades the group to take a side trip on the way to Moscow to the abandoned city of Pripyat outside of Chernobyl for an ‘extreme’ experience!
It turns out that this is actually not a found footage horror after all and when the group led by ex-special forces Russian Uri (Dimitri Diatchenko) finally get into Pripyat things start to get really interesting and shit ass scary for the audience. Director Bradley Parker does really well with a relatively low budget managing to slowly build up the characters and even make us like some of them until he gets the chance to increase the suspense and tension to the max, and when it all does go nuclear (excuse the pun) he takes the Hitchcock approach and shows you very little – letting your imagination run riot in the haunting and cinematic deserted damaged cityscape.
The script comes from Oren Peli of Paranormal Activity fame and it’s suitably tight, lean and genuinely scary. Chernobyl Diaries will easily make a hardened horror fan happy.