Wednesday, May 30, 2012


Oren Peli should maybe stop making movies.

It pains me to say this, being such a S-T-A-U-N-C-H supporter of the first two Paranormal Activity films (and everything up 'til the last 10 minutes of PA3) - but Chernobyl Diaries really did a number on me, gang. And not even in the way that would have meant it was doing its job

This movie took my heart - filled with love for setting horror movies in creepy, abandoned places - and beat it mercilessly with the most sporadically functioning Geiger counter on the face of the planet. I felt no goodwill towards any of the miserable idiots onscreen at any given time, which had the strange effect of making me immediately sympathize with the first "monster" I actually saw (it was a mutated little turtle person, and I actually giggled).

"You will rue the day you ever learned of SADOWSKI!"

Alleged actor Jonathan Sadowski acts as leader of the BroDouches, and I also had the pleasure of sitting one row in front of him and all of his real life BroDouches at the ArcLight in Hollywood. By the time his face was melting off from radiation, I felt like I had finally found something to cheer for in this movie. 

There's Brunette Britta from Community, and Fake Claire from LOST, and...hey!
Wait a minute!

I think one of the worst things a scary movie can do is dangle a really interesting idea in front of the audience for only a moment, without providing any payoff. Chernobyl Diaries does this in small ways throughout its running time, but by the end proceeds to throw a drink in your face, give you the double finger, and walk off with your money. I'm not going to spoil it, but suffice it say that the last 5 minutes were the most interested and engaged I felt in the entire film. And then it was over. There was one more chorus of "SADOWSKI!!!!" behind me, and the generic hard rock song started playing over the end credits.

So what have we learned, if anything? My takeaway is that Oren Peli - for whatever reason - has no concept of how to craft a satisfying ending to a movie. Final scene plot twists are fine when they make you want to go back and reexamine the movie all over again...but in this case I really wouldn't recommend that level of exposure. 

1 comment:

James Aach said...

I've read a number of reviews of this movie and enjoyed yours the most for the sincere joy you expressed in watching a bad movie, even with it's "stars" in attendance.

FYI: If you would like an easy-to-read look at the real Chernobyl tragedy, there are a few chapters in my novel "Rad Decision" which tell the story in a way that allows a lay person to folllow along and understand what the real problems were. The book is free online (no advertisements or sponsors) at , with the Chernobyl section linked at the homepage. I work in the US nuclear industry, which I suppose gives me some credibility for explaining this.