Very few times, if ever, have I walked out of a movie believing what I just saw was less of a movie and more of a paradox. “Chernobyl Diaries” was seemingly the first major horror movie to come out that was not part of the found-footage genre, which was admirable. But at the same time the movie proved why those kinds of movies work in ways standard teen-guided horror cannot.
Much like “The Hills Have Eyes,” this movie benefited from a supreme choice of location, taking place in the abandoned city of Chernobyl. But instead of the eerie, first-person feel with found-footage horror, here the camera spent too much time focused on the group of 20-somethings running and screaming as they tried to find a way out of the city, creating too much action and not enough suspense that the location was more than capable of providing.
The fact it was not found footage probably gave a sigh of relief to many people, but at the same time, a case could be made for how living up to the “Diaries” part of the title could’ve generated the scares.