Theatrical release poster
|Directed by||Brad Parker|
|Produced by||Oren Peli
|Screenplay by||Oren Peli
Carey Van Dyke
Shane Van Dyke
|Story by||Oren Peli|
Olivia Taylor Dudley
Ingrid Bolso Berdal
|Music by||Diego Stocco|
|Editing by||Stan Stalfas|
Oren Peli/Brian Witten Productions
|Distributed by||Warner Bros.|
|Running time||86 minutes|
Chernobyl Diaries is a 2012 American horror film directed by Brad Parker and produced by Oren Peli, who also wrote the story. It stars Jesse McCartney, Jonathan Sadowski, Devin Kelley, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Nathan Phillips, Ingrid Bolsø Berdal, and Dimitri Diatchenko. It was shot on location in Hungary and Serbia. Unable to film in Pripyat due to nuclear radiation, an abandoned Soviet Air Force base and tunnels in Belgrade, Serbia were used instead.
(Warning: contains spoilers)
Chris (Jesse McCartney), his girlfriend Natalie (Olivia Taylor Dudley), and their mutual friend Amanda (Devin Kelley), are traveling across Europe. They stop in Kiev, Ukraine, to visit Chris's brother, Paul (Jonathan Sadowski), before heading on to Moscow, where Chris intends to propose to Natalie.
Paul suggests they go for an "extreme tour" of Pripyat, the abandoned company town which sits in the shadow of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Chris is against going on the extreme tour to explore Pripyat as it's dangerous and would rather stay on the original path in going to Moscow. They meet tour guide Uri (Dimitri Diatchenko), and are joined by a backpacking couple, Norwegian Zoe (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) and Australian Michael (Nathan Phillips). Uri drives them through the wilds of Ukraine, before they arrive at a Chernobyl Exclusion Zone checkpoint, where they are refused entry by the Ukrainian military. Uri takes them to an abandoned checkpoint he discovered years ago.
The group stops at a river where Uri points out a large, mutated fish apparently able to live on land. As soon as the group distances itself from the river, a school of fish can be seen swimming in the river, meaning that there is still life. The friends are worried about radiation poisoning, but Uri assures their safety with a Geiger counter. After spending a few hours exploring the abandoned city, Uri takes them to the upper floor of an apartment building and shows them the Chernobyl nuclear plant on the near horizon. After hearing noises at the other end of the apartment, it is found to be a bear which runs through the hallway past them, but not harming them.
The group prepares to leave Pripyat and Uri finds the wires in his van have been chewed through. He tries to radio the military for help, to no avail. As night falls, Uri and Chris go out to investigate some noises. Shots are heard and Paul runs out, only to return with Chris whose leg has been severely mauled.
The next day, Paul, Michael, and Amanda go looking for Uri. They follow a trail of blood to find Uri's mutilated body. They take his gun and return to the van. Amanda checks her camera and one of the pictures shows a humanoid creature inside one of the apartment buildings. Natalie stays with the wounded Chris while the others start the 20 kilometer (12 mile) hike to a checkpoint.
Paul, Amanda, Michael and Zoe find a parking lot, where they find parts for the van. On the way back they are chased by dogs and also attacked by mutant fish in a stream. Night falls as the group returns to the van, only to find it ripped to shreds. They find Natalie's video camera, showing that she and Chris were taken by humanoid mutants. While searching for the two inside an old building, the group is chased by more mutants.
During their escape, a traumatized Natalie is found and rescued, but when the group gets distracted by a mysterious young girl, Natalie is captured again. The rest of the group is swarmed by a horde of mutants. While retreating through an underground passage, Michael is captured. As they continue, they find Chris' engagement ring for Natalie, with no sign of Chris. While climbing a ladder, a gang of mutants pull Zoe back down, forcing Amanda and Paul to leave her behind, emerging from the passage right beside the exposed reactor core. Paul recognizes that extremely high radiation levels are causing their skin to blister. They come upon Natalie's body before emerging outside, where they are confronted by Ukrainian military personnel. Blinded by radiation damage, Paul stumbles toward the soldiers, who fatally shoot him.
Amanda passes out and later awaken on a gurney. Several doctors, in protective hazmat suits, inform her that she is in a hospital and they will help her. The doctors reveal that the "creatures" were escaped patients who have been recaptured, Amanda is the only one alive, and cannot be released because she has seen the patients. Amanda is then forced into a dark cell and is swarmed by the escaped patients, as the doctor closes the door's viewing shutter.
- Jesse McCartney as Chris
- Jonathan Sadowski as Paul
- Devin Kelley as Amanda
- Olivia Taylor Dudley as Natalie
- Nathan Phillips as Michael
- Ingrid Bolsø Berdal as Zoe
- Dimitri Diatchenko as Uri
The film, produced by Alcon Entertainment and distributed by Warner Bros., was released in Russia, Canada, Bulgaria and the United States on May 25, 2012. It went on general release in the United Kingdom on June 22.
Chernobyl Diaries was released to DVD and Blu-ray Disc on October 16, 2012.
Prior to film's release, the Friends of Chernobyl Centers, U.S., had said that the film's plot was insensitive to those who died and were injured in the disaster, also the movie was sensationalizing events that had "tragic human consequences". In response, the producer, Oren Peli, said that his film was done with the utmost respect for the victims, and that the Israeli charity Chabad's Children of Chernobyl wrote him a letter expressing their "admiration" and "kudos" for his creation. Despite this claim, others described the film as a "plot-less mess of disaster porn", citing UK-based charity Chernobyl Children's Lifeline, who thought it was "disgusting".
Critics were not granted the usual pre-screening — a deft decision, given that the film has received negative reviews, currently holding a 19% rating on Rotten Tomatoes based on 80 reviews. The websites' consensus is "Despite an interesting premise and spooky atmospherics, Chernobyl Diaries is mostly short on suspense and originality". Critics at Spill.com acknowledged the filmmakers' attempts to create a chilling atmosphere, but criticized the film's shallow characters, numerous clichés and failure to deliver even the most basic special effects. Mark Olsen, a critic from Los Angeles Times, says: "The lack of suspense and surprise in this dispiritingly rote film becomes its own form of contamination". Positive reviews notably include Frank Scheck from Hollywood Reporter who said: "A basic monster movie that benefits greatly from its unique setting, Chernobyl Diaries again demonstrates Oren Peli's ability to wrest scares with minimal production values and a clever premise."
- "Weekend Box-Office: Men in Black III Leads Memorial Day Pack". cinamanerdz.com. Retrieved 2012-06-11.
- "Chernobyl Diaries (2012)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved 2012-11-11.
- Mark Olsen (May 26, 2012). "Review: Bland frights in 'Chernobyl Diaries'". The Los Angeles Times.
- "Chernobyl Diaries shot inside Nazi Bunkers".
- "Have a Quick Meltdown After Spending a Minute with The Chernobyl Diaries". Dread Central. Retrieved 2012-04-18.
- "Horror Flick RIPPED By Victim Support Group". TMZ. May 21, 2012.
- "Horror film 'Chernobyl Diaries' draws some protests". GMA News Network. May 26, 2012.
- "'Chernobyl Diaries' Producer – OTHER Victim Support Group LOVES US!". TMZ. May 22, 2012.
- The Real Chernobyl Diaries: Notes from Ukraine The Independent. July 11, 2012
- Official website
- List of mistakes in movie trailer
- Chernobyl Diaries at the Internet Movie Database
- Chernobyl Diaries at Rotten Tomatoes
- Chernobyl Diaries at Box Office Mojo
- Chernobyl Diaries at AllMovie
- 1-on-1 Interview with Oren Peli on Chernobyl Diaries