Hey gang, Valkor here. You guys know I've sat through and shared my experiences with "found footage films"? And for the bunch that I've sat through, only a couple have come out on top as being "watchable and entertaining" – Evidence and V/H/S. Well the folks at Warner Home Video have sent over a Halloween treat that takes the genre to a whole new level. Enter "Chernobyl Diaries" on Blu-Ray Combo Pack.
Chernobyl Diaries follows the exploits of Chris (Jesse McCartney), Amanda (Devin Kelly), and Natalie (Olivia Dudley) who are off to visit Chris's brother Paul (Jonathan Sadowski) in Kiev. Paul introduces the gang to Uri (Dimitri Diatchenko), who'll take them on an "extreme tour" to the city of "Pripyat", which was the home of the workers for the Chernobyl reactor some 25 years ago. Also on this journey are tourist couple Michael (Nathan Phillips) and Zoe (Ingrid Bolse Berdal), who join the tour just before departure. In Pripyat it is said that the people had to abandon the town completely when the reactor blew; they weren't even allowed a few minutes to take personal belongings, they had to up and go. The group tours an abandoned building, have a run in with a stray bear, and eventually its time to go. But we all know they're not leaving – alive anyway. The van they drove in has had its wires cut. And when darkness settles, it's revealed that they're not alone in Pripyat… far from it. Now the group must try and make their escape from this radioactive nightmare of a town or never see the light of day.
Like all of WHV BD combo packs, you get the blu-ray, DVD, and an UltraViolet digital copy of the film. Other extras include an "alternate ending", "Uri's Extreme Tours", and "Chernobyl Conspiracy Viral Video. That's a lot of fun stuff to mess around with, but you won't want to hang around the extras when the film is all that you'll need.
Going into Chernobyl Diaries, I honestly didn't think I would enjoy the film as much as I did. It's definitely not the scariest film I've ever sat through, but it never gets boring and overall it's quite compelling and entertaining. The unique way the movie was shot mixes a traditional film with shaky cam shots, giving it the appearance of a "found footage" film; hell there's even a scene when the group head back to the van where there should have been a wounded Chris and girlfriend Amanda nursing him, only to find video footage of the two being taken away by "something". Again the film isn't all that scary, but it does have some chilling moments, a few jump scares, and those creatures, whatever they were, were definitely creepy. The acting was pretty decent; there were no solid standouts, but the performances overall was damn good. In the end I found Chernobyl Diaries to be frightening and a whole lot of fun.
When I started watching Chernobyl Diaries, I thought it was a ghost story; who knew this was about a bunch of mutated freakazoids creeping about the town? Considering this film went the traditional film route, there should have been some creature backstory. Either way, though creepy as fuck, I wasn't really feeling the beasties. Next, so Paul, Michael, Amanda, and Zoe are racing back from a building where they were searching for tour guide Uri. They've just escaped a strange "something" and for some odd reason Amanda decides to flip through photos in her camera. I'm not even sure why that scene was necessary. I mean everyone is in a panic and your friend's leg was turned into a nibble stick, but hey, you go right ahead and look at some pics. I know there was a reason why she did it, but if you put it in perspective, given what's happening around her, it's a pretty dumb reason to take that action. Petty, I know! Ugh! The ending was also a bit meh – it makes for an OK closer but it's not as riveting as that ending in Evidence. Now THAT was crazy!
Chernobyl Diaries is available now on DVD and Blu Ray Combo Pack and while it's not the scariest of the scariest films out there, it does combine a decent story, with a few frights, to make for one intense thriller. Make this one a part of your Halloween film rotation. And out of TOV 5 stars, I'm giving Chernobyl Diaries a 3.5.