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Chernobyl Diaries movie review: Six tourists have a melt down

Welcome to Uri’s Extreme Vacations! Looking for a unique place to propose to your girlfriend? Want some spectacular photos for your blog? For a few hundred rubles, you and your loved ones can visit an abandoned, radioactive city that’s off-limits to the general public and people with half a brain. Don’t forget your 100 SPF sunscreen and Geiger counter!


Oren Peli (Paranormal Activity) has a new horrific treat — this one is set in the Russian town of Prypiat, the home of the famous Chernobyl nuclear reactor that melted down 25 years ago, sending waves of radiation across Russia and Europe, frightening the world just like the disaster at Fukushima did when the earthquake and tsunami hit in 2011. This explosive backdrop sets up a chain reaction of freaky events when six young tourists decide to visit.

Taking a forbidden road, gruff but confident Uri (Dimitri Diatchenko) drives young lovers Natalie and Chris (Olivia Taylor Dudley and Jesse McCartney), Chris’s goof-off older brother and Natalie’s best friend Amanda (Jonathan Sadowski and Devin Kelley) and Scandinavian couple Zoe and Michael (Ingrid Bolso Berdal and Nathan Phillips) straight to the eerily quiet town whose rivers may or may not be full of large, flesh-eating mutant fish.

But after Uri’s van breaks down 13 miles from the nearest non-radiated town, this holiday goes from strange to deranged when Uri and Chris are attacked by a pack of bloodthirsty wolf-like creatures. Uri goes missing and Chris’s leg is torn to bits, prompting the others to search for help.

Chernobyl Diaries desolate city

The various mutants get more and more frightening, possibly indicating a secret cover-up by the Russian government. Without giving away too many details, something very bad is in the groundwater and these kids are in atomic-level trouble!

I did scream loudly several times but I did laugh, too. Even radioactive-style, the horror genre set-ups are still the same and there wouldn’t be a movie if the characters didn’t make stupid decisions and use whacked judgment.

Chernobyl Diaries cast

Bottom line:  Chernobyl Diaries makes for some thermodynamic screams and scares using handheld footage that feels raw and dangerous. If you liked Paranormal Activity, you’ll fear this film!

Photo credit: Warner Bros.

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