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November 24, 2012
Chernobyl Diaries Blu-Ray Review
Cinema Release Blu-Ray Release Distributor Director
24/5/201221/11/2012Village RoadshowBradley Parker
Video Codec Sound Format OFLC Rating Star(s)
AVC MPEG-4DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1MA15+Jesse McCartney

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Chernobyl Diaries uses the nuclear wasteland as the setting for some horror...

Anyone who has been reading Futuregamez for a period of time would be aware that, in general, I'm not a fan of horror films. It's not the fact that I don't like the frights, but rather they are usually predictable and the frights come from loud noises more than anything else. Watch a horror film with the sound levels very low and the experience is well, usually pretty dull. But what about Chernobyl Diaries then? Well the film is from the same mind behind Paranormal Activity so it should have an immediately interested audience (given that Paranormal Activity 4 has just made over $135 million an counting at the box office).

Chernobyl Diaries sees six tourists looking for something different, and they soon hire an extreme tour guide named Uri to take them to the abandoned city of Pripyat, the former home to the workers of the Chernobyl nuclear reactor. During their exploration they soon discover they aren't alone, and getting out is going to be a struggle for survival.

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Expect some scenes of gore...
It must be said that Orin Peli created a pretty nice story for Chernobyl Diaries - or at least uses a real-world setting as the basis for this horror film which, in part, gives it some sense of believability. While the characters are a little cookie-cutter and pretty much cover the stereotypes (ditzy blonde, arrogant guy, peer-pressured guy etc) but the performances are adequate. Of particular note though we very much enjoyed Dimitri Diatchenko as Uri who starts out as the tour guide, but you soon get an inkling that he knows a little more then he let's on, and we enjoyed seeing Australian Nathan Phillips (Wolf Creek, Snakes on a Plane) as Michael too.

As I touched on earlier my disliking for movies such as this (that means horror films) comes from a variety of sources. First is the complete illogical decisions which some people make. Without any major spoilers, why would you, keep the light on inside the van - it illuminates you, but also makes it hard to see what's happening outside. Another dislike is the way films like this give you a fright through illogically loud, and unnecessary, noises.

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Happy tourists (for now) near Chernobyl.
What saves Chernobyl Diaries is the location where the film is set - the nuclear wasteland around the reactor that suffered a meltdown in 1986. The filmmakers have remained honorable to the many people that lost their lives around the power plant, and the almost half million people displaced since due to radiation. Does that make this an essential watch? Certainly not, but those that enjoyed films such as Paranormal Activity (and this film has the same screenwriter and producer in Oren Peli) may want to check Chernobyl Diaries out too.

Chernobyl Diaries is presented on Blu-Ray in the film’s original aspect ratio of 1.85:1 using the AVC MPEG-4 codec. As with almost every horror film there are plenty of dark scenes, and this transfer handles them pretty well with plenty of detail in the darker scenes.

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Chernobyl Diaries is on Blu-Ray now.
It's not all dark however, with plenty of scenes taking place outdoors during the daytime although even here, and as is the case in real life, there isn't too much colour in a town that has been deserted for over 20 years now. In these scenes, and despite plenty of shaky-cam use the transfer doesn't disappoint. Sure, this disc isn't going to be one I'd use to show off my TV, but it gets the job done.

Being a "horror" film of sorts the sound design is one where there are moments of quiet interspersed with frantic, and often very loud, moments. As I've previously mentioned I hate this kind of audio design, but understand the need for this genre. Still, the lossless DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (16-bit/48Khz) is definitely up to the task with clear dialogue, atmospheric effects and nice use of surround sound channels when required, although with such a dialogue focused film the center channels get the biggest workout.

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Hitting the Russian checkpoint into Pripyat.
Besides the primary English track there is only one other track - an Audio Descriptive track which is encoded at a rather paltry Dolby Digital 2.0 at 192kbps. I really would have hoped and expected more from the track - even descriptive tracks could be given surround sound at least!

There is only a single subtitle track which is an English Descriptive Subtitles for the Hearing Impaired which not only contains the dialogue, but also detail other sounds in the film. Neatly the subtitles are coloured according to who's talking for easier recognition.

Our Blu-Ray copy of Chernoby Diaries comes with a Digital Copy on a second disc, but the film also has a couple of extras worth checking out.

Chernobyl Conspiracy Viral Video (2:22/HD): While short this is a pretty cool little rundown about what happened at the nuclear reactor, before going off on a speculative tangent.

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Naturally, things get scary in the dark.
Uri's Extreme Tours Infomercial (1:16/HD): A little pointless with a fake advertisement for Uri's tours of Chernobyl.

Deleted Scene: Welcome to Kiev (0:45/HD): Running for under a minute, this wasn't even worth including on the disc.

Chernobyl Diaries: Alternate Ending (1:47/HD): The ending in the film was decent and preferable to this alternate one which only changes the last moment, not the almost 2 minute runtime.

Chernobyl Diaries really isn't my type of film at all but, mainly thanks to the unique setting, a few frights and decent transfer makes this a release which horror/suspense film fans will likely enjoy.

Review By: Dave Warner


Note: All images in this article are Copyright© Village Roadshow. They are only indicative of the movie and not sourced from the vastly superior Blu-Ray disc format.