By now you will probably have realised that I have a soft spot for the hand-held camera horror films; and although I will admit to enjoying the majority of them, I have seen my fair share of terrible ones. Chernobyl Diaries – although not technically a hand-held camera film – however, in my opinion, was not one of those terrible ones, it kept me gripped and watching like Alex DeLarge in the Ludovico Technique.
As you can probably guess, the plot is based around the 1986 nuclear accident of the power plant in Chernobyl, Ukraine. Based in modern-day, a group of six friends decide to do some extreme tourism; by booking a tour with ‘Uri’, who takes tourists around the town which was abandoned after the disaster. The place is creepy enough in the day, but as night falls, the group have more than just shadows to worry about. It appears that someone or something is not letting them leave, and they must attempt to stick together until the sun rises; all the while avoiding the clutches of whatever it is that is lurking and hunting them in the abandoned structures.
What I really enjoyed about this film is that I thought it, in a way, mirrors The Blair Witch Project; in the sense that the audience barely ever see what the antagonists actually look like, we only see snippets. As I have said before, the most powerful weapon at a horror film makers disposal is the audience’s own imagination. Yes we do have an idea of who the villains of the film are, but by partially hiding them in the shadows, the viewers are able to create their own interpretations of them. Meaning that the creepy atmosphere, which is present throughout, does not falter for the audience.
Although not actually a hand-held camera film, I thought that it came across as being filmed on that type of camera. Unlike a lot of horror films which shove everything right in your face, so that you do not miss anything. This film creates its creepy atmosphere in two ways; firstly in the way which I just spoke about, and secondly by adding it’s scares into the backgrounds – rather than the foregrounds – of scenes. For example, there are certain parts of the film that show things in the distance which only the audience see and not the characters. The movie does not use jump-scares for its full effect, rather it plays on what is going on off the screen to frighten its viewers.
Although I do congratulate the creators on using an original idea for their story line, I can certainly see where some of the controversy, which I have read about, has come from. After all, if you had family or friends who were affected by the events of Chernobyl, you probably would not be happy to hear that a film featuring the residents being turned into mutated killers had been made.
Oren Peli is once again behind another horror film – others include Paranormal Activity, Insidious, The Bay and The Lords of Salem – which I have enjoyed. Although I think that he has gone off the rails slightly with the continuation of the Paranormal Activity franchise; The Bay and Paranormal Activity are still two films which I would recommend to anyone.
If you are a fan of Peli’s other movies and suspense-driven films, then Chernobyl Diaries is a must.
Tag Line: Ten Years Ago, The Ukrainian Government Let Tourists Visit The Area Around Chernobyl. They Said It Was Safe…It Wasn’t.
Horror Rating: (:-O) (:-O) (:-O)
Star Rating: ☆☆☆