Chernobyl Diaries follows a group of young adults traveling across Europe. Chris (singer Jesse McCartney), Natalie (Olivia Dudley) and Amanda (Devin Kelley) visit Chris’s brother, Paul (Jonathon Sadowski), in the Ukraine and it’s not long before Paul suggests going on a trip to an abandoned town near the Chernobyl disaster site. And, of course, to increase the death count backpacking couple Zoe and Michael join in on the fun. Cue a broken-down car and disfigured flesh-eaters...
The setting, although considered insensitive by some, is actually the strongest element in this horror flick. While the film becomes flustered due to its basic and clichéd story, the eerie surroundings give this dud a glimmer of hope. But it all crumbles pretty quickly.
Bradley Parker’s direction fails to build up any suspense due to messy handheld camerawork. Any tension results from cheap jumps and you'll be more likely to shake your head in annoyance than quiver with fright. Then there's Peli’s script, lacking in depth or originality. He tries to use the setting to produce something different, yet it ends up covering common ground - during which infuriating characters become dinner. These typical good-looking protagonists (all giving standard performances) have predictable fates but the script still attempts to create a connect with the audience. Loss of loved ones and marriage become favoured issues, but these character ties collapse shamefully producing unemotional audience responses.
In the end the film feels like so many other disappointing horror flick, unimaginative and scare-free.