After a frigid trip to the X-treme heights of the Alps, the Bad Movie Twins are ready for some fun in the sun. Unfortunately on our way to Monaco we were waylaid by a black market travel agent promising the adventure of our lifetime with a trip to forbidden Chernobyl. “Why not?” we say. Can’t be much worse than the horrors we see on a weekly basis at BMT HQ. That’s right! We’re creeping our way into Ukraine and watching Chernobyl Diaries. Since I know nothing of this movie other than it qualifies and clearly takes place in Ukraine I’m gonna go ahead and guess that it’s about a young woman who is wooed by two young suitors, the rich man she knows she must marry and the rakish rogue called to adventure that she so desires. Set during the tumult of the Ukranian Civil War, young Nastya has only her diary to confide in. Set your heart aflame with… Chernobyl Diaries. Oh… and there are like vampires and Frankenstein’s monsters in it also since this is the horror/thriller entry in the cycle. Nailed it. Let’s go!
Chernobyl Diaries (2012) – BMeTric: 65.3
(That is a very strange plot. I think this is regressing from two different means. Where it starts is basically where fans of perhaps horror in general, or maybe the one of the actors, thought “meh below average”. And then it quickly goes straight to where normal people thought of it (very below average). It just sticking at 5.0 is interesting and I don’t really have a theory on it. Usually that means a film is particularly bad, but I guess we’ll see.)
Leonard Maltin – 2 stars – Six “extreme tourists” are stranded in Pripyat, the supposedly abandoned Ukrainian city near the infamous Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster, and discover they may not be alone after all. Despite a few scares ad stretches of suspense, small-budget thriller plods along a predictable path through familiar territory.
(A few scares and stretches of suspense? This is already heads-and-shoulders above a lot of horror films. I’m wondering now whether this is actually going to be weirdly better than we thought it would be … I mean if it has a scare that is genuinely not bad for a bad horror film.)
(Hmmm … You know I could have sworn this was a found footage film. But it isn’t. Like the camera isn’t really being held by anyone for the most part, only occasionally. How strange … Maybe I was thinking of Apollo 18 or something. Looks like a real world Silent Hill though. Actually they would have been better off going with a story like that now that I think about it.)
Directors – Bradley Parker – (BMT: Chernobyl Diaries; Notes: Kind of first and foremost a visual effects guy. He’s attached as a visual effects artist on the next Godzilla film (King of the Monsters). He was second unit director for a few of the Planet of the Apes films as well though.)
Writers – Oren Peli (screenplay & story) – (Known For: Paranormal Activity; Paranormal Activity 2; Paranormal Activity 3; Future BMT: Paranormal Activity 4; Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension; Area 51; Paranormal Activity: The Marked Ones; BMT: Chernobyl Diaries; Notes: He was a software programmers at one point helping to develop Photon Paint for the Commodore Amiga)
Carey Van Dyke and Shane Van Dyke (screenplay) – (BMT: Chernobyl Diaries; Notes: Grandsons of Dick Van Dyke. They’ve written a few Asylum mockbusters and acted in a few more as well. I’m not exactly sure why or how they got involved here … I guess it is one of those things where a movie is actually written by like 20 people and these two guys did juuuust enough to get a cut.)
Actors – Jesse McCartney – (Known For: Horton Hears a Who!; TinkerBell and the Secret of the Wings; Beware the Gonzo; Future BMT: Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Squeakquel; Alvin and the Chipmunks: Chipwrecked; Alvin and the Chipmunks; Alvin and the Chipmunks: The Road Chip; BMT: Chernobyl Diaries; Notes: He was the youngest member of the short-lived boy band Dream Street which disbanded in 2002 after a dispute between the parents of the artists and the production company. He’s been in a number of Disney shows like Hannah Montana.)
Jonathan Sadowski – (Known For: She’s the Man; Die Hard 4.0; Spring Breakdown; Future BMT: The Goods: Live Hard, Sell Hard; BMT: Chernobyl Diaries; Friday the 13th; Notes: He was the nerd character in Friday the 13th. He was also in the main cast of S#*! My Dad Says.)
Olivia Taylor Dudley – (Known For: Walk Hard: The Dewey Cox Story; The Dictator; Dude Bro Party Massacre III; Future BMT: Paranormal Activity: The Ghost Dimension; The Vatican Tapes; Dumbbells; BMT: Chernobyl Diaries; Transcendence; Notes: She’s apparently most famous for being one of the stars of SyFy’s Magicians television series. All of the news about her has to do with that show.)
Budget/Gross – $1 million / Domestic: $18,119,640 (Worldwide: $37,157,648)
(Obviously made a fine amount of money. Interesting that it isn’t Blumhouse Productions considering they did Paranormal Activity which has the same writer. That $1 million budget certainly seems like the Blumhouse style though. This film netted probably $13 million in profits, which is a pretty penny if they had the same profit sharing arrangement that Blumhouse tends to do.)
#210 for the Horror – R-Rated genre
(This genre is just going to keep going up as R-rated films become more profitable I think. It is an interesting trend, and It and Get Out kind of prove it is a good trend I think (and R-rated film was probably in the top three most likely film to win best picture which is crazy). Freddy vs. Jason is the highest BMT on the list.)
Rotten Tomatoes – 17% (15/86): Despite an interesting premise and spooky atmospherics, Chernobyl Diaries is mostly short on suspense and originality.
(There it is again. So this movie is likely to be an okay horror which is just a little trite and tired. I think I’d accept that over The Devil Inside or whatever. Reviewer Highlight: Director Bradley Parker shakes his camera around a lot. – Hank Sartin, Time Out)
Poster – Sklognobyl Diaries (B)
(I really enjoy the artistry of the poster despite its similarity to many cheap straight-to-DVD covers. But maybe I just think that because most films have famous actors on the poster and this one doesn’t have any actors to put on the poster.)
Tagline(s) – Experience the fallout (A-)
(Hmmmm… this doesn’t sound like a tagline to a horror film. More like a thriller about trying to stop the end of the world via nuclear war. Otherwise this is excellent. Short and sweet and clever.)
Keyword(s) – abandoned city; Top Ten by BMeTric: 71.6 Cell (I) (2016); 65.3 Chernobyl Diaries (2012); 61.4 Vanishing on 7th Street (2010); 50.4 The Swarm (1978); 46.0 Resident Evil: The Final Chapter (2016); 41.5 Kill Switch (I) (2017); 31.1 Suicide Squad (2016); 28.0 Beneath the Planet of the Apes (1970); 26.9 Land of the Dead (2005); 24.0 Incubo sulla città contaminata (1980);
(Oh look our first one. It is kind of amazing because these are all basically on our radar. I kind of love how many movies have the keyword “abandoned city” entered for them as well, so specific. There was an abandoned city in Expendables … 2? Whatever, all I’m saying is the list isn’t exhaustive.)
Notes – Oren Peli first thought of the idea for the story when he saw a photo blog posted by a girl traveling through Pripyat on a motorcycle. (Cooool)
The film was shot on location in Hungary and Serbia. (Wait one goddamned second … that isn’t Ukraine!)
Real Ukranian tours to Prypiat and Chernobyl can be booked online for under 100 USD. (No thanks)
Writer/Producer Oren Peli – who also created Paranormal Activity – strongly defends this movie against claims it was insensitive to a devastating disaster, saying “I found it very sad and fascinating and eerie and creepy… I thought it would be a great setting for a scary horror film. It was never our intention to offend anyone.”
Not screened in advance for critics.
After the end credits, the final sound the viewer hears is a rapidly clicking Geiger counter indicating high radiation. (ugh, alright)
According to Reuters, at least 1 organization has tried to use the film to raise awareness and funding for children of the disaster. Producer Peli is pleased with that but divulges, “I’m not going to pretend that was my main goal – my main goal was to create a movie that people will find entertaining and scary and will enjoy it.”
Jonathan Sadowski and Jesse McCartney have since worked together in the sitcom Young and Hungry. (fun facts)