Friday, August 31, 2012

CHERNOBYL DIARIES (2012) movie review

Chernobyl Diaries (2012) d. Parker, Bradley

First off, it’s worth noting that despite titular indication and Paranormal Activity’s Oren Peli on board as a co-writer/producer, this is not another entry in the “found footage” sweepstakes. Granted, there are some instances of cell phone recordings illustrating previous offscreen scenes’ mayhem, but for the most part this is a straightforward narrative about a group of college grads concluding their whirlwind European tour with a trip to Kiev; within said stop, they swap out their Moscow plans for an “extreme tourism” excursion into Pripyat, the neighboring town of ill-fated Chernobyl, the real-life epicenter of a nuclear reactor meltdown in 1986.

Parker develops an impressive atmosphere of gloom and desolation amidst the deserted – and still radioactive – town, as well as some engaging sequences of attack and retreat by unidentified, and perhaps supernatural, antagonists. Instead, it’s the three-headed screenplay (Peli, Carey Van Dyke, Shane Van Dyke) that proves the weak link, failing to deliver a satisfying “why” to the strange occurrences. The result is a series of creepy boo scares that lack resonance, dissipating within the cold light of cinema lobby hindsight and reflection.

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