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|
|Edited by||Stan Stalfas|
|Distributed by||Warner Bros. Pictures|
|86 minutes (USA)
88 minutes (UK)
Chernobyl Diaries is a 2012 American disaster 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 locations in Pripyat, Hungary and Serbia. Pripyat remains a part of the exclusion zone but tours are allowed to be taken all through there. Tours are now allowed through and around some structures at the Chernobyl plant, which was not in this film.
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, Russia, where Chris intends to propose to Natalie.
Paul suggests they go for an "extreme tour" of Pripyat, an abandoned company town which sits in the shadow of the Chernobyl Nuclear Power Plant. Chris is against going on the tour because of the potential danger and would rather stay on the original plan of going to Moscow. They meet tour guide Yuri (Dimitri Diatchenko, who is listed in the credits as Uri, in Hebrew), and are joined by a backpacking couple, Norwegian Zoe (Ingrid Bolsø Berdal) and Australian Michael (Nathan Phillips). Yuri 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. He, then takes them to an abandoned checkpoint he discovered years ago.
The group stops at a river where Yuri points out a large, mutated fish apparently able to live on land. However, to the other's surprise, it appears to be a joke, and they again move on to the abandoned city. As soon as the group distances themselves 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 Yuri assures their safety with a Geiger counter. After spending a few hours exploring the abandoned city, Yuri 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 Yuri finds the wires in his van have been chewed through and destroyed. He tries to radio for help, to no avail. As night falls, the group decides on whether to hike to a nearby checkpoint which is 20km away or to stay put and wait for help, where they point out that no-one knows where they or saw them leaving. Suddenly, strange noises come from outside, where Yuri and Chris go out to investigate. Shots are heard and Paul runs out, only to return with Chris whose leg has been severely mauled, and Yuri seemingly disappears in the dark.
The next day, Paul, Michael, and Amanda go out to look for Yuri. They follow a trail of blood to an abandoned cafeteria and find Yuri'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.
During the hike, 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 and captured 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 appearing and disappearing out of nowhere, Natalie is captured again. The rest of the group is swarmed by a horde of mutants. With no weapons to fight, the group retreats. While retreating through an underground passage, Michael is captured and seemingly killed. 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 awakens 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, and after realizing that Amanda "knows too much," she is then forced into a dark cell and is swarmed by the recaptured patients, as the doctor closes the door's viewing shutter.
- Devin Kelley as Amanda
- Ingrid Bolsø Berdal as Zoe
- Dimitri Diatchenko as Yury
- Olivia Taylor Dudley as Natalie
- Jesse McCartney as Chris
- Nathan Phillips as Michael
- Jonathan Sadowski as Paul
- Alex Feldman as Medic Goldshimdt
- Kristof Konrad as Medic Grotzky
- Pasha Lychnikoff as Doctor
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, in the US. The UK DVD and Blu-ray release followed on October 22, 2012. The UK release presents a longer version (about 2½ minutes) of the film than the American one.
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".
The film 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 The Los Angeles Times, said: "The lack of suspense and surprise in this dispiritingly rote film becomes its own form of contamination". Positive reviews notably include Frank Scheck from The 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."
- DVDCompare.net: Chernobyl Diaries (Blu-ray) (2012).
- "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.
- "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
- Scheck, Frank (2012-05-25). "Chernobyl Diaries: Film Review". The Hollywood Reporter.
- Official website
- Chernobyl Diaries at the Internet Movie Database
- Chernobyl Diaries at Rotten Tomatoes
- Chernobyl Diaries at Box Office Mojo
- Chernobyl Diaries at AllMovie