Tuesday 12 December 2017

What lurks at old Chernobyl site?

Paul Whitington

chernobyl diaries

(16, general release, 88 minutes)

Director: Bradley Parker Stars: Jesse McCartney, Devin Kelley, Dimitri Diatchenko, Olivia Taylor Dudley


Another gem from the mind of former video game programmer Oren Peli, whose credits include Paranormal Activity and three sequels. Chernobyl Diaries uses the site of the world's worst nuclear disaster as a springboard for cheap and modestly entertaining horror.

A group of American tourists -- you know the type, brash, cocky, blandly good-looking and just asking for trouble -- are midway through a whistlestop tour of Europe when they arrive in the Ukrainian capital, Kiev.

Chris (Jesse McCartney) has a brother called Paul (Jonathan Sadowski) who lives there, and has brought his girlfriend Natalie (Olivia Taylor Dudley) and their mutual friend Amanda (Devin Kelley) along for the ride.

Slick, impetuous and hopelessly full of himself, Paul hatches a plan to go on an "extreme tour" to Pripyat, a small city right beside the Chernobyl power plant that's been abandoned since 1986.

The stupidest idea you've ever heard, right? But Paul knows ex special forces soldier Uri (Dimitri Diatchenko) who runs tours of the ghost city, so they decide what the hell, and give it a go.

But when they get to the town they get the uneasy feeling they're not alone and, after Uri's jeep is vandalised, they end up trapped.

Chernobyl Diaries' relatively novel concept is reasonably well established, and Peli and his director Bradley Parker skirt the limitations of a $1m budget by adhering to the Jaws principle and keeping their monsters well hidden.

A little too well hidden for my liking, however, because the grotesque creatures who've survived in Pripyat are only glimpsed in the shadows, and seem uninterested in providing this dreary drama with much in the way of gory entertainment.

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