Four of America’s most tedious individuals (Jesse McCartney, Olivia Taylor Dudley, Devin Kelley and Jonathan Sadowski) head to the abandoned Russian city of Prypiat, famous for the Chernobyl nuclear disaster. They are accompanied by Russian guide Uri (Dimitri Diatchenko) and two fellow tourists Zoe (Ingrid Bolso Berdal) and Michael (Nathan Phillips), who’s Australian, but not Australian enough to be interesting. When their van breaks down they’re left stranded in the city which is a shame because scary things keep happening.
The most notable thing about Chernobyl Diaries is how mindnumbingly boring it is from beginning to end. Not boring in the sense that it’s unremarkable for its genre, but boring in the sense that literally nothing of any interest happens during its miserably long 86 minutes.
The dialogue consists of the onscreen morons stating obvious facts about their surroundings. At one point boring man number two, upon seeing a guard exclaims “Shit! It’s a guard”. It doesn’t help that the actors appear to have been found on toothpaste adverts. Instead of holding auditions, it seems the casting director just went to Abercrombie & Fitch with a net.
It seems unfair, however, to blame the actors, when the script is clearly written by people who have never heard anyone talk ever and are about as competent as a Chernobyl nuclear safety technician. The most fleshed out character is boring girl number one because she takes a lot of photos, giving her the only distinguishing characteristic from the other dullards in this insipid group.
Cluelessly made, the complete absence of suspense is probably the worst thing about Chernobyl Diaries. If you’ve never seen a film like this before you may be mildly startled, but for the rest of us the loud and always predictable bangs that punctuate the tedium simply feel like being slapped in the face during a conversation about paperclips.
Director Bradley Parker has made the biggest disaster to happen in Chernobyl since 1986. This film’s sole redeeming feature is that it doesn’t use the done-to-death “found footage” setup, but seeing as this is true of most other films too it brings little consolation. It’s also visually competent, if lazily unimaginative, for the most part, aside from a rather shoddy CGI bear.
Chernobyl should be a gift for movie producers. An abandoned city with dangerous radiation is asking to be made into a film. With this in mind it’s incredible that the makers of Chernobyl Diaries manage to ruin it so spectacularly. What a nuclear waste.