How has there not been a horror movie made about this place before now? Or was there one that came out in the 80s that I don't remember? Pretty sure even if it was a terrible horror movie that I would have recalled it. Especially since it would have been released during the heyday of scary movies. Yet it took a 2012 flick to fully utilize one of the easiest horror movie concepts?
"Chernobyl Diaries" follows a group of six young vacationers who, looking to go off the beaten path, hire an "extreme" tour guide. Ignoring warnings, he takes them into the city of Pripyat, the former home to the workers of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor, but a deserted town since the disaster more than 25 years ago. After a brief exploration of the abandoned city, however, the group soon finds themselves stranded, only to discover that they are not alone.
There were only two reasons that I even bothered with this. The first being that it was another original story Oren Peli. The same cat who brought us the first "Paranormal Activity". And I still maintain that folks either loved that or hated it. I loved it. Enough that I was willing to give this joint a look. Even though it was clear he was biting the same shaky-cam, pseudo faux documentary look that made his first movie a success. But it doesn't translate to every movie. The second and most obvious reason was it coming on HBO. I was bored so I watched it.
Call me stupid, but I couldn't understand why someone would want to do an extreme tour of a place that was a nuclear disaster anyway. So what if it was 25 years later? Would you want to run the risk of assuming that it's safe from all the radiation? Not sure I would even take the chance if I was an impetuous college coed who thinks he's invincible. But at least they were smart enough to do it during the day. Not realizing, of course, they would end up getting stuck there at night.
The sad thing is that they had a pretty great premise to be begin with in the first place. The location just screamed of the possibility of having some type of nuclear disfigured zombies roaming around. Possibly even in the daytime. But they never really take full advantage of it. They spend so much time trying to rely on that documentary-type format to give you authentic-looking shocks that there is nothing really shocking about it.
After investing an hour and a half into "Chernobyl Diaries", I can't help but think they would have been better off cashing in on the concept when the place was still relevant. It would have added a bigger creepy factor to it. It wouldn't even matter if the effects wouldn't have been as good since they didn't have the technology then that have now. It's not like they utilized it here anyway. This was just about as scary as "The Princess Diaries".
My rating: D+