You may think that the visual effects director of such brilliant films as Fight Club and Let me In would be capable of directing an awesome mutant horror film, but you’d be wrong. Bradley Parker tries his hand at directing for the first time after being visual effects director on multiple films, and comes out with none other than the horribly inconclusive and all round completely poor Chernobyl Diaries, which attempts to be like The Hills Have Eyes and fails miserably.
Six tourists hire an ‘extreme tour guide’ to take them to an abandoned city that was once home to the workers of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. Ignoring all warnings about the dangers of left-over radiation and wild animals roaming around the group sets off to explore the abandoned and near-destroyed city.
What happens when there’s radiation after a nuclear incident? Mutants. And lots of them. Or at least according to a multitude of other horror films which Chernobyl Diaries attempts to emulate but ultimately doesn’t do a very good job of. The opening scenes and the build up are the best parts, coincidentally all the parts before we see the mutants. Some decent tension is built and we get to know the characters a little which helps us to care a bit when they meet their untimely death (only a tiny bit though) but Chernobyl Diaries is painfully conventional with the characters dying in the most predictable of horror-movie-death-patterns, which any horror fan worth their salt will know like the back of their hand. All the characters are completely one dimensional and none of them are even the tiniest bit interesting, fortunately for the viewers though they pick the characters off with the most uninteresting, irritating one first, although they do take their time getting to the point.
For someone with a background in visual effects directing Bradley Parker does a terrible job of the effects in his directorial debut. Thankfully we see very little of the ‘mutants’ but from what we can see, their faces look less like mutants and more like a rubber mask that’s been put in the oven on high for ten minutes. Perhaps Parker needs to take his cast of mutants back to mutant behaviour class and teach them the difference between zombies and radiation-mutated freaks. Just a thought.
There’s nothing worse than a terrible horror films with a horribly inconclusive ending and Chernobyl Diaries has the mother of all terrible, inconclusive and unsatisfying horror movie endings. In case even after this review you still want to watch it (in which case do yourself a favour and wait till it’s available for free) I won’t give the ending away, but it is one of the worst, most annoyingly inconclusive endings I have ever had the misfortune of waiting 86 minutes for. It’s one of those cliche horror endings that’s been done a million times, those endings that are so frustrating you almost want to unwatch the entire film so you can rid yourself of that nagging feeling you get when you’ve just been cheated of an hour and a half of your precious time.
Chernobyl Diaries is a poor excuse for a horror film with a frustratingly crap ending and rubbish characters. There have been far better mutant horror films in the past and no doubt there will be more to come. If you’re still convinced you want to waste your time on this film, please do not pay for the pleasure; you will regret it.