HBO Go added a handful of new horror titles for the month of October, with Chernobyl Diaries being one of them. Another in the long, dreary line of found-footage horror films that everyone is bored with by now. But they are still a guilty pleasure of mine, for some reason. Most of them suck, but I dig the idea behind them all. And it cracks me up that Slyde thought The Blair Witch Project was real when we saw it in the theater on opening night. Not me...no way. OK, I was about 75% sure it was fake. Stupid mockumentary on the SciFi Channel fucked me up.
Oh, hi Chernobyl Diaries! How you doing? Ah, care-free, young Americans traveling through Europe. Recording the entire trip for posterity. Gee, I hope they are going to be okay. (Note: they aren't going to be okay)
Looks like I may have been wrong about the "found-footage" thing. The film drops that artifice directly after the opening credits. Which is nice, I guess. Except that it is still being filmed like one of the group is running around with camcorder, and that everyone is ignoring him or her. So found-footage-esque, I guess. You know, you can make fun of found-footage films all you want. "Oh, there is no way they would still be filming this right now!" But at least most of them have the balls to stick with it. Whatever.
And now, a conversation that would never ever happen with my friends and I:
Friend 1 - "Hey, how about we all go to Chernobyl with this guy Yuri in his van?"
Friend 2 - "Why not, I mean...we ARE in Europe!"
"You know what else is in Europe? ABOUT A MILLION FUCKING COOL PLACES THAT AREN'T RADIOACTIVE!!! How's about we hop a train to Belgium for some brewskis, eh pal? Oh, and let's not touch that creepy looking dead fish by the side of the river. I'm sure it's not contaminated or anything."
Enough of that rant. On the plus side, the filming locations seemed to be incredibly realistic. It was filmed in Hungary and Serbia in some abandoned building or neighborhoods. It looked really impressive. Kind of how you would imagine the city of Pripyat in the Ukraine would look several decades after the evacuation in 1986. So kudos to the filmmakers on that. Abandoned civilization is the fucking creepiest.
You probably have a good idea what's coming next. Lots of freaky, mutant, radioactive, cannibalistic things. And not one of those words is good. The film had me on the edge of my seat for a good portion of the second and third acts. Which is pretty much all I ask for in a horror film. And just remember kids, if the radiation don't kill ya then the radioactive mutants will.
Verdant Dude rating: 3.5 out of 5 pumpkins