Friday, July 20, 2012

Chernobyl Diaries (2012)

Chernobyl is a darn good concept to exploit; that was my first thought, when I learnt they were doing this film. Early childhood memories  swept into my present and upsetted it. I lived through that radioactive spring, I remembered, and that radioactive summer. Well aware of the fact that I was at no point to  pick fruits from the trees in my village near Thessaloniki, I had nonetheless only abstract perception of the rest. My grandma did not make her traditional sweet delicacy from rose petals, they were supposedly infected by this impossible danger. I tried to look at the roses up close, I tried hard to discern their radioactive qualities; they hadn't explained me that it was 100% invisible.

Once the film was out, the reviews were equally upsetting. Somebody had done an easy, uninspired job. Such a pity. I watched the film two days ago and I'm still in Chernobyl, Ukraine, though. The fable of the city that was deserted overnight, Pripyat, couldn't let me go. Chernobyl Diaries being mediocre, they still had their impact on setting up restless memories. In that sense, I guess it worths the mediocrity.

Pripyat was a city preparing for the celebration of the 1st of May. A fun-fair was running, people where full of excitement and expectation for the beginning of a warm, colorful spring, except there were none. The reactor leaked, the parents had time to take only their wallets and the kids had to leave their toys behind. Life was left behind for good, as the sounds of nature ceased to exist for a long time, radioactivity killed most of the living creatures. Apparently a motorbike girl from Eastern Europe was the first to visit and publish photos of the forgotten place; the photos aroused vivid interest and the tale was revived. Even the creators of the film is said to be inspired by her original story and bleak photos of a mummified communist city in ruins.

As you may get from my recitation, this film may as well have been a great one. The material was superb, the feeling was already around and the real setting was inspiring to the bone. The thing is, the budget was not enough, but let's not always blame it on the budget. After all, the reconstruction of the setting was not bad: the fun-fair was there, the dolls and toys laying on the ground, the wild dogs and  the nuclear reactor 4. Only the spirit was missing; instead of faraway memories and true suspense, the film was crammed with hide and seek moments, mutants lurking around the corner and blood that noone could really attribute to a cause. I mean, the actors were sort of okay, maybe they could be more so, the blonde, sexy American could be missing -why do we always fall victims of recreation of stereotypes, as film-makers?- and the connection to the setting and the title itself could be much stronger, it could be essential. Cause now, Chernobyl is only a pretext; the group of young tourists lost in a godforsaken place could by any group of young tourists in any godforsaken place in the world.

Not even some aknowledgment to what radioactivity is capable of; characters have no personal story, everything is poorly written and executed, I would say, which is a same. Nevertheless, I still got scared. Their tricks get me every time.

* And, it was Bradley Parker, the special effects guy who directed it. No need for special effects here, dude. And Oren Peli of Paranormal Activity fame wrote the script. Get some holidays, man, I think you ran short of ideas lately.

No comments: