DVD Review: Chernobyl Diaries (15)

AS a concept the Chernobyl disaster is an interesting, although devastating, urban event which could originate a range of urban myths and be a suitable setting for a horror film. Especially the town itself and the deserted poignant shells of the buildings left to rot in their radioactive residue. The director Bradley Parker, who has much experience working on blockbusters such as Fight Club and Red Planet but in the Visual Effects unit, obviously saw this as a major strength and the character of the location is well shot and incorporated into the narrative. The haunting scenes capture a tragic sorrow which is edged with the fear of the potential horror which is about to commence.

We have a party of six young adults, joyfully oblivious to the obvious dangers, led by the Russian Extreme Tourism guide, Uri who is played by the gruff Dimitri Diatchenko. Diatchenko pulls off the expected stereotype with enough subtle humour to make him the stand out character. The rest of the cast is young and brittle and their character’s are glossed over. Within this mix of frantic bodies is the recognisable Jonathan Sadowski (Die Hard 4.0) but his aggressive persona fails to find the right counter balance and at times it feels he is simply shouting at the camera, and suffering from poor direction.

The main problem that the Chernobyl Diaries has is that it doesn’t deliver enough horror. It is a 15 rating and so the punches were always going to be pulled but it really could have done with being an 18. There are moments when one of the trapped group Amanda played effectively by Devin Kelley, whose van has been sabotaged by some unseen assailant in the middle of Chernobyl, finds herself trapped and we never really glimpse the warped creature who’s trapping her. It is frustratingly anticlimactic considering this is a contemporary horror and a genre we have become used to revealing all. In fact the mutated populace of Chernobyl remain much of an enigma, which is a surprise when you consider the director’s past in special effects. The sets are grand, the pace picks up towards the end but the delivery is disappointing.


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